Have you ever self-harmed without realising?

Comment

Have you ever self-harmed without realising?

With an average of one in ten people self-harming, it's important that we're all aware of the facts, the definition, and how we can help others. You may think that self-harm means cutting themselves. This is not always the case; self-harm can describe many things people can do to themselves.

What is self harm?

Self-harm is a 'deliberate injury to oneself. It may be a way to express emotional pain. Some people who self-harm say that turning their emotional pain into physical pain can bring relief. According to selfharm.co.uk, any form of self injury can become addictive.

Ways in which people may harm themselves vary, but the most common ways include cutting, burning, punching and pinching oneself. Other ways people may self-harm (without being fully aware that it is a form of self harm) is by excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Self-harm often happens when someone is feeling angry, frustrated or very upset. It is important to reflect on what caused that emotion to try to prevent more self-harm. Any action that eases emotional pain by causing physical pain can be thought of as self-harm.

It's important to remember that people who self-harm dont enjoy it. They see it as something they need to do to cope with their emotions. Because it can make those awful emotions go away for a little while it can be addicted. It does not take long for those emotions to come back and the person needs to self-harm again to make it go away.

Self harm: The myths

  • People only self-harm for attention. Self-harm can be very private. Most people who self-harm make a lot of effort to cover it up. Others may be open about their harming as a way to get help. Simple attention (particularly if people are critical of the person self-harming) can make matters worse.

  • People who self-harm are always suicidal. Self-harming is used as a coping mechanism to survive, not to die. Obviously, there is a link between self-harm and suicide, but many more people self-harm than take their own life. Some forms of self-harm can also ultimately result in death with no intention. Although there is a link, not every person who self-harms is suicidal.

  • Everybody who self-harms is mentally ill. Not everybody who has a mental health condition self-harms and not everybody who self-harms has a mental health condition. Those who do self-harm may be referred to a mental health team to get extra help, but this does not always result in a diagnosis.

The stats: 

  • Every year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males harm themselves.

  • Around half of those who self-harm begin when they are around 14, continuing into their 20s.

  • The UK has the highest self-harm rate of any country in Europe.

  • One third to half of teenagers in America have self-harmed in one way or another.

  • 70% of teens who self-harm have made at least one suicide attempt. Up to 55% had made multiple suicide attempts.

How do I help somebody who self-harms?

You may know and love somebody who self-harms, and there are plenty of ways you can help. Firstly, let go of any anger you may feel about this person deliberately hurting themselves. It may be difficult for you to witness, but they do this as a way of expressing emotional pain. Anger from you will not help them. An important factor in recovery is getting to the root of the issue that is causing the emotional pain in the first place. It's important to remember that some people need years of therapy to fully stop self-harming as it is their coping mechanism. It is a long and painful journey, so do not expect them to instantly stop tomorrow. Ask how they are feeling, with no judgement. Do not make them to feel guilty, as this will likely worsen the problem. Although everybody would like to help a loved one, it may be best to reach out to professionals, including your GP initially, for additional support.

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists maintains register of accredited CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) therapists, many of whom specialise in self-harm:

0161 705 4304, Babcp.com

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) lists qualified and accredited therapists:

01455 883 300, itsgoodtotalk.org.uk

Other helpful links:

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-self-harm-statistics-and-facts/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/self-harm

https://www.teenhelp.com/physical-health/cutting-statistics-and-self-injury-treatment/

Comment

Supporting your partner through their anxiety

Comment

Supporting your partner through their anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders worldwide. Because of this you probably know at least one person who struggles with their anxiety, but have you considered how debilitating is actually is for them? There are many types of anxiety conditions from social anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder. Around 12 to 18 percent of people are affected by an anxiety condition at any given time. There must be a fairly large proportion of couples where at least one partner struggles - And that's completely normal.

The different types of an anxiety disorder include general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and more. Anxiety can be a challenge in any relationship, however there is no reason to let it spoil things between you and your partner - It can bring two people much, much closer. A lot of people find themselves wanting to help their partner but not knowing what to do. Here are some tips to help you support your partner.

  • First, learn about their anxiety. Find out what it means for them, how it starts and develops, what helps and what doesn't. There are many good resources online to learn, but your partner may not be able to access these because the anxiety gets in the way. Don't try to lecture your partner, but use the knowledge to help. The NHS has very good information on anxiety disorders that you can find following this link.

  • Remember, it is nothing personal. Some people with anxiety prefer to be left alone while they recover from an attack, or to remain focused. This is not because they don’t love you or that you aren’t calming enough; it is just the way in which they prefer to cope. It is their battle and whichever way they feel most comfortable overcoming it, let them do it - That in itself is showing support. Those with anxiety may also respond in an angry tone, be resentful or feel guilty towards their spouses. Do not let this bring you down, it is the condition that is causing your partner to behave this way. Always bear that in mind.

  • Encourage treatment. If your partner does not yet receive treatment for their anxiety, gently suggest that you can help make arrangements - After all, you want to help them. Offer your support during the appointment so it is less daunting. If left untreated anxiety disorders can get worse. There are lots of online resources, videos, books and more if your partner does not yet feel confident enough to sit face to face with someone. Calm breathing is one of the simplest and easiest ways to calm an anxiety attack.

  • Don't criticise what they do. If you don't know what it is like to experience an anxiety disorder (or even if you do), do not tell your partner off for getting anxious over situations which may seem silly to you. Also, don't criticise their way of coping with anxiety. Don't offer advice or alternatives, if it works for them, leave them to it. Instead, support them through it and praise them when they manage to cope well.

  • Help them to set realistic goals. Do not expect your partner to sit down and say “this time tomorrow I will not have anxiety”, because it won't happen. It takes time, patience and often treatment.

  • You will NOT ‘cure’ your partner of their anxiety. A lot of the time, some partners go into a relationship assuming they can instantly cure their spouse of their mental health disorder. Just as you cannot ‘cure’ someone with diabetes, just by making them happy; it is also not possible to cure your partner of anxiety by loving them lots (although it does help).

  • Don't assume what your partner needs or wants during anxious periods, listen instead. Although you may only be trying to help, you do not want your partner to feel small and incapable by offering help constantly. 

  • Be there, but do not isolate yourself. Many people with anxiety disorders prefer to have a small circle of friends. Because of this they will not be as social as you may like. It is okay to spend nights in together if that is what you prefer however do not become isolated from your friends/family. Ensure you get out and socialise to maintain a healthy mind yourself.

  • Communication is key when in a relationship with somebody experiencing an anxiety disorder. An understanding of when they feel particularly low or are having a good day will not come instantly. Encourage communication to recognise the signs.

Being with somebody with anxiety is not a burden in any way. Neither of you are victims and if you chose to be with a person experiencing an anxiety disorder, life won’t be too much different. However it may require a little more patience, care and a better understanding of one another - Which will only bring you closer together.

Comment

5 things you should know about eating disorders

Comment

5 things you should know about eating disorders

Eating disorders are potentially life-threatening conditions which affect everyday life, including both mental and physical health. With the way celebrities, models and other people of interest are portrayed in the media, it is not surprising that the number of young people experiencing an eating disorder is increasing. So, let's start with some education.

What eating disorders are there?

When eating disorders are mentioned, it is generally assumed to be ‘anorexia’, however there are many different eating disorders.

  • Anorexia Nervosa, usually just called anorexia, includes a severe fear of gaining weight, an unrealistic self body image and refusal to maintain a healthy body weight. Those suffering anorexia tend to strictly count calories, usually eating far less than the recommended minimum. Anorexia can have life-threatening consequences including brain damage, organ failure, bone loss, heart issues and infertility.

  • Bulimia Nervosa, known as bulimia, is an eating disorder which tends to be associated with a repeated cycle of binge eating and vomiting, excessive exercising or use of laxatives to make up for the overeating. Just like with anorexia, those with bulimia usually fear weight gain and are unhappy with their body image. Bulimia can result in severe dehydration, gastrointestinal and heart problems.

  • Binge eating disorder is characterised by a repeated loss of control resulting in episodes of overeating. People affected tend to feel very distressed and guilty right after the episode. This condition differs from bulimia in that those affected do not restrict their diet, overexercise, use laxatives or make themselves sick. Due to this, those experiencing this disorder tend to be overweight. This can lead to feelings of guilt, distress and embarrassment which puts the individual in a cycle of overeating.

What causes eating disorders?

Eating disorders are complex, and there isn't typically a single clear cause for each. There are however various risk factors that make it more likely for someone to have an eating disorder. These factors come in three categories.

  • Biological - Biological factors are to do with your body, including balance of hormones, genetics and nutritional deficiencies, to name a few.

  • Psychological - Psychological factors are to do with your brain, and mainly centres around the perception you have of yourself. This can include a negative view regarding your body image, and low self-esteem.

  • Environmental - Environmental factors are to do with the surrounding environment. This can include family, profession, hobbies, trauma, peer pressure, stress and the media.

How can I recognise an eating disorder?

Recognising an eating disorder in the early stages can make treatment a lot easier for the person concerned. Those affected may not even realise anything is wrong, and may have spent a long time trying to hide their behaviour due to their own insecurities. If you know of any loved ones doing the following, be sure to speak to them in a calm way, without blame or judgement, and see if you can help them. Some symptoms are difficult to witness, however these are the most visible.

  • Dieting even once visibly underweight

  • Monitoring calories and fat intake constantly

  • Eating habits such as cutting food up into small pieces, hiding food or only eating alone

  • Obsession with food/recipes. May cook for others but not eat themselves

  • Depression and/or stress

  • Isolation

  • Switching between overeating and not eating at all

How are eating disorders treated?

For someone suffering with an eating disorder, it's only natural to feel worried about seeking help. That's completely normal. We, as people that care, will want to remember this and approach the subject carefully, to make sure the person knows we just want to help them and that we care. The earlier we can help someone, the easier it will be for them. There are lots of ways to help, and ways to help yourself, including:

  • Monitoring what you eat and the nutritional values yourself can be a really positive way of coping. Science tells us that our bodies need certain minerals, vitamins, nutrients and calories to keep our bodies ticking over correctly. Someone with an eating disorder will have their meals controlled for them, with supervision - Why not do this yourself, or help someone you know, so you/they are always in control?

  • Therapy may help in some cases, to address any psychological or environmental factors causing the eating disorder. These could include recovering from any traumatic events, bereavements, stress, etc. With all mental health conditions, talking about your problems is usually the best place to start.

  • Seeing your GP is a big first step to make. There are all sorts of support groups, medications and charities that could help you or someone you know. They certainly won't be the only person experiencing their eating disorder and there is always help available if you know where to look.

  • Don't be hard on yourself. A mental health condition is just like a broken bone - They can be experienced by anyone, regardless of your background or upbringing. Your confidence and your self-esteem will need a big boost, so why not do something you love? Pick up an old hobby, reach out to your friends, visit your family. There are lots of things that can bring us happiness and finding distractions or positive things to fill your time with will be really helpful.

What are the statistics?

  • 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder

  • 89% of the 1.6 million are female

  • 14-25 year olds are most affected by an eating disorder

  • 1 in 100 women aged between 15 and 30 are affected by anorexia

  • 10% of people affected by an eating disorder are anorexic

  • 40% of people affected by an eating disorder are bulimic

  • The rest fall into the Eating Disorder 'Not Otherwise Specified' category including those with binge eating disorder

  • Research shows that the earlier treatment is sought, the better the chance of recovery

If you or your loved ones are experiencing an eating disorder, ensure you seek medical advice as soon as possible. More help can be found here: https://www.b-eat.co.uk/support-services/helpline

 

Comment

Single this Valentine's day?

Comment

Single this Valentine's day?

February 14th. A dreaded day across the world for every person without a significant other. A day most single people are likely to spend sitting on their sofa watching romantic comedies whilst eating an entire tub of ice-cream. It is time to re-define Valentine’s day for those who won’t be receiving a gift or posting a soppy 'couple photo' on Instagram. There are approximately 17 million single people in the UK. You are not alone (even if it may feel like it today).

Instead of dwelling in self-pity, binge-watching your favourite romantic films, here are 10 things you could do instead!

  • Replace those romantic films for comedies. Laughter is a natural way to boost your mood, reduce stress and all round improve your mental wellbeing. Get comfortable in bed with healthy snacks and laugh to your heart’s desire! The night will be over before you know it!

  • Get together with your other single friends instead of being by yourself. Plan an event such as going to the cinema, a night out, or going for a bite to eat. Even if you are single, you don’t have to be single alone.

  • Treat yourself. There is (almost) nothing more therapeutic than retail therapy! Instead of money you would have spent on a present or dinner if you were in a relationship; treat yourself! Get that jacket you’ve been pining for since it went up in the window 3 weeks ago, or even treat yourself to a relaxing massage.

  • Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read for the past year. There is nothing like getting lost in a book to forget your troubles. Have a nice bubble bath, get in your cosiest pyjamas and lose yourself in the wonderful world of fiction.

  • Spend time with your family. If you have any relatives with children, offer to babysit whilst the parents go and do their Valentine's day thing! Children never fail to make you laugh with the silly things they do! Maybe you’ll get a bit of spare money whilst you’re at it! Maybe some of your loved ones are also alone this Valentine’s day?

  • Call your crush. If you really aren’t happy with your current relationship status, what better day to ask the person you’ve been interested in, out?!

  • Try something new. There is no time like the present! Go somewhere you’ve wanted to go to but haven’t had the time. Make yourself something you’ve always wanted to cook!

  • Forget about it. Turn your phone off, do not look at any social media and just do what you would usually do! There is no need to get upset over a fictional tradition, especially when some people in relationships don’t even celebrate themselves!

  • Pamper yourself. Have a night in pampering yourself and taking time to relax. If you’d rather not venture to the spa, bring the spa to you! Put the attention on yourself rather than the day. Invite any single friends you have and make a night of it!

  • Practice mindfulness. One of the most therapeutic things one can do to reduce levels of stress/anxiety associated with being alone on Valentine’s day is practicing mindfulness. This can include numerous activities, and you can try it right from your phone or tablet using our app, Feel Stress Free. It’s also a great way to pass the time! 

Do not let Valentine’s day get you down. You are amazing and deserve to be happy!

Comment