On Chester Bennington and how to identify someone at risk of suicide

On-Chester-Bennington-and-how-to-identify-someone-at-risk-of-suicide

Photo credit: Jonathan Denney

When news broke that Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington died by suicide last week, tributes to the iconic singer poured out online. And whether we lose someone who is beloved on a global scale, or a member of our community, the ripple effects of such a tragic event often lead to questions like “What could I have done?” and “How could I identify the signs they were struggling”?

In light of this, we wanted to share a previous blog with you, giving you five questions to ask someone you believe may be at risk of suicide. We hope this equips you to help your family and friends if you are concerned for their safety. 

Five questions to ask a loved one at risk

It can be scary to ask a loved one if they are at risk of suicide. There is a stigma within society that insists asking someone about suicide attempts, thoughts or plans will perpetuate the act of suicide—but this is simply not true. In fact, asking someone if they are struggling, and giving them the opportunity to share their pain with you, can actually alleviate the risk of the behaviour occurring.

If a friend or loved one has been acting uncharacteristically, either withdrawing from people or acting irrationally and stepping out in risk-taking behaviour, then you may need to ask them if they have thought about suicide.

Other indicators they are thinking about it are unexplained injuries, death or self-harm related content being posted on their social media, increased substance abuse, previous suicidal thoughts or attempts and a sense of hopelessness.

Here are five questions that will help you assess the risk of a loved one carrying out the act of suicide.

  1. Have you had any suicidal thoughts?

The presence of suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean a person will act on them—but it is still essential you know they are there. Suicidal thoughts will often perpetuate and can become more vivid as a person feels a greater sense of hopelessness.

Asking them this question doesn’t imply they want to suicide. Actually, finding out when the thoughts began and how prevalent they may be allows you to understand the weight of what your friend is experiencing.

  1. Do you have a suicide plan?

Asking a loved one if they have a plan in place to carry out the act of suicide is essential. If they do have a plan to suicide, either a carefully constructed and well thought out plan, or a fleeting idea of what it would look like, you know they are high risk and immediate action needs to be taken to care for their wellbeing.

A person who has a set time and place for the act of suicide, and who has begun putting their affairs in order (writing letters, cancelling registrations etc.) is at extremely high risk of carrying out the act of suicide.

  1. Do you have access to any weapons or means of suicide?

A person who has already acquired a weapon or means of suicide is at serious risk. Other people who know weapons or tools are available in their work place or at a friends or relatives place are also in danger.

If your loved one has access to a weapon, ask them how regularly this occurs, if they have considered how they would access it and the likelihood of this.

  1. Have you felt like this before?

Understanding if your loved one has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past will help you to support them and keep them alive.  Ask if they have attempted suicide in the past, or thought about it. See if they have previously harmed themselves, and if they’ve created a suicide plan in the past.

If this has occurred in the past, the risk for your loved one increases, but this does not mean they won’t be open to help.

  1. Why have you chosen to stay alive?

Up to this point, your loved one has made the decision to stay alive. Irrespective of their struggles, they have chosen to remain. When people have suicidal thoughts, they resist them for any number of reasons: their love for family and friends, obligations, fear, the hope that things will change.

Take this reason and run with it. If a person is afraid of dying, they don’t want to die—they are likely exhausted and don’t know how to fight anymore. If family or friends is their motivation, remind them of the profound love they experience and the future events and moments they want to witness. If obligations are keeping someone alive, ask them what these mean and how they affect the people near them.

If a loved one answers yes to one or more of these questions, they need further help. Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency. If they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or you are concerned for their wellbeing, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here.

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

How one father explains mental illness and parenthood

How-one-father-explains-mental-illness-and-parenthood

Comics about mental health have been making the rounds on social media for the past few years, and artists like Toby Allen and Gemma Correll have changed the way many of us talk about mental illness. Now there’s another artist to add to the mix—but with a point of difference.

Toronto based teacher Chris Grady is the creator of Lunar Baboon, a series of comics depicting his everyday life. His comics are simple and sweet, showing the moments he interacts with his wife and kids. Notably, they also poignantly depict his struggle with mental illness.

In an interview with The Mighty, he explained that he began drawing to cope with his own struggles.

“After the birth of my first son, I was going through a really hard time. I wasn’t sleeping and started getting really depressed and found myself in a dark place. I needed something different, I was having a lot of negative thoughts and I needed a place to put them so I started drawing in a moleskin notebook and it’s taken off from there,” he said.

From comics about cheeky interactions with his son, to honest encounters with his wife, and brave attempts to find humour as he lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there’s something instantly relatable about Chris’s work. What’s more, it shows how to healthily communicate in family relationships and what we can do to support one another.

To see more of Chris’s work, visit LunarBaboon.com. His book Lunar Baboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood is out now.

Are you a parent? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How to stress less and find happiness

How-to-stress-less-and-find-happiness

It’s hard to get through a typical day without experiencing stress, right? From money concerns to worries about work, 7 out of 10 of us feel extremely anxious or stressed each day.

When we’re stressed, we experience physical fatigue and tend to take out our concerns on others. We see it damage relationships and create tension in ordinary situations. So how do we beat stress? The fact 85% of what we’re stressed about never happens is a great stat to comfort us when we’re agitated, but it’s not always easy to let stress ‘roll of our back’.

The great news is that there are some simple ways to reduce stress in our every-day life. Talking to a friend or colleague, seeing a counsellor—even putting a pot plant on your desk can all help to re-establish your own well-being. Add some exercise, meditation or fun activities into your schedule and you’ll also begin to feel less stressed.

Take a look at this infographic by Happify and see what methods you can use to reduce stress in your life. Let us know your favourite relaxation techniques in the comments!

How-to-stress-less-and-find-happiness-infographic

Are you stressed? Would you like to break free of your anxiety and worries? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

 

13 Reasons Why: 10 Resources you need to see before you watch the TV show

13 Reasons Why

When hit TV show 13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix on March 31, viewers quickly devoured the teen drama. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher, it depicted the story of a Hannah Baker, girl who committed suicide and left 13 audio tapes for people in her life, explaining why she died.

Public response to the show has been varied: some viewers praised it for openly discussing mental illness, while others found it triggering due to its graphic portrayals of suicide, sexual assault, gun violence and bullying.  Several episodes include warnings, however some people don’t believe this is enough, prompting Netflix to include more. Despite this, it is likely a second season of the show is on the way.

If you have yet to watch 13 Reasons Why, or know someone who is watching it, it’s essential you know what the series is about so you can make an educated decision about if you will watch it, who you will do this with and when this will happen.

Here are 10 resources we found discussing the pros and cons of 13 Reasons Why. Take a look at each one and talk to a friend, mentor or colleague about how you will approach the series. By being educated about this pop culture phenomenon, you can better care for yourself and the people around you.

  1. To Write Love On Her Arms
    Blog: In response to 13 Reasons Why
    A non-profit that presents hope and help to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and thoughts of suicide, founder Jamie Tworkowski discussed the show in a recent blog. Expressing concerns about the way it vividly portrayed suicide and the negative connotations it aired about seeking professional help, they praise people who “put [their] recovery first” by making the choice not to watch it.
  1. Headspace
    PDF: How to talk to young people about 13 Reasons Why
    After an increased amount of queries once the show aired, this Australian mental health service for young people released a PDF that clearly identifies the concerns people have raised about its content (eg. suggesting suicide is reasonable due to the ’13 reasons’). It also lists the research to support or dismiss each point, and suggests strategies to talk to young people about each topic.
  1. ABC
    Article: 13 Reasons Why: How to talk to teens about suicide and mental health issues raised in the Netflix series
    Dr Fiona Wagg a psychiatrist at Royal Hobart Hospital, discusses how parents can best approach their children and teens about the series.
  1. NY Mag
    Article: Teens explain what adults don’t get about 13 Reasons Why
    This piece by NY Mag is unique because it goes straight to the target audience of the TV show: teenagers. Revealing a variety of perspectives, you’ll find this enlightening as teens point out what they did and didn’t like about the series, and how it has impacted them individually, in their family and how its been received by the wider community.
  1. The Mighty
    Blog: 13 Reasons Why archive
    Mental health website The Mighty has published numerous articles on 13 Reasons Why. With blogs highlighting the impact it has on someone with PTSD and chronic illness, a parent’s point-of-view, how it has helped people find safety and overcome shame and even a piece where a young person discusses their regret upon watching it, this is an invaluable archive for personal responses to the show.
  1. Associated Press
    Interview with producer Selena Gomez
    This short interview with teen icon and producer Selena Gomez gives some insight into the purpose of the series.
  1. Vanity Fair
    Op Ed: 13 Reasons Why writer: Why we didn’t shy away from Hannah’s suicide
    Series writer Nic Sheff wrote this exclusive piece for Vanity Fair, detailing the very personal reasons he took on the controversial TV show. While this is important reading, it is extremely descriptive and graphic as Sheff talks about his own suicide attempt. Read with care.
  1. The Guardian
    Article: 13 Reasons Why ‘not helpful', suicide prevention summit told
    This piece by the Guardian gives a fantastic oversight of the response from the Australian mental health community, as well as a more general overview on the impact of suicide in society. Keep an eye out for quotes by Lifeline Chief Executive Pete Shmigel, who explains why they believe 13 Reasons Why has gone ‘too far’ in their depiction of suicide.
  1. CNN
    Long form article: Why teen mental health experts are focused on '13 Reasons Why'
    This extensive piece gives a thorough over view of the public’s response to 13 Reasons Why. Referencing the responses of mental health services across the world, the intentions of the show’s creative team and referring to appropriate statistics and research, if you’re looking for a single, overall piece to read, this is it.
  1. Netflix
    Documentary: 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons
    Also available on Netflix, this documentary accompanies the 13-part series and shows exclusive interviews with the cast, creators and mental health professionals, giving more context to the story. Please note that this documentary is rated MA15+ and could be triggering to viewers due to audio and visual content.

Have you watched 13 Reasons Why and had a strong, emotional response to it? Are you concerned about a loved one who is watching the TV show? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Managing Meltdowns: Wisdom from over the fence

Managing-Meltdowns

It had been a particularly rough 12 months for our family. My father was terminally ill, one of our children had additional needs, which required at least one therapy session a week, and my husband had had an incredibly stressful few years at work and had just changed jobs which necessitated that we move to a semi-rural suburb on the edge of Sydney.

I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but our change of location brought with it some wonderful benefits. We were on a large block of land by suburban standards and rather than being surrounded by 6 foot high fences, our property boundary was marked by chicken wire held up by neatly spaced stakes. We had an uninterrupted view into our neighbours yard, complete with a sweet little staffy dog, a small tractor and two horses. Much to our delight—the horses were stabled right beside our fence line.

I quickly became friends with our next door neighbour. Her name was Chris. She had been a nurse in a busy Sydney hospital but, in her 40’s, she left that career behind to take on a quieter existence. She earnt a small income as the ‘photocopying lady’ at a local private school and spend her afternoons tending her property. Just before five p.m. everyday, she would be out with the horses and I would often meet with her for a chat over the fence. She was full of wonderful wisdom about ‘country-etiquette’, gardening plus motherly advice and support.

One of my children was going through a particularly rough patch and she often heard the tantrums and meltdowns through the open windows of our house. She would ask me how I was coping with motherhood and chat with me about the challenges my children were facing. She never judged, she always listened. We just chatted, sometimes even as my child was wailing and stomping by my side.

I was so, so tired. Some days I just couldn’t give my children the time and attention they wanted. Sometimes their wants and needs took me totally by surprise. And sometimes, those screams and tantrums just kept tumbling out of my children, one after the other.

As much as the fresh country air and slower lifestyle helped me, it still wasn’t enough to quell the anxiety and depression that I had been battling as a result of the events of the previous year. The crisis point came when I suffered a minor nervous breakdown. I was overwhelmed with life, with the things we had come through and with the uncertainty of the future. I ended up in bed for two days, on a steady diet of lemonade icy poles, staring at ABC 24 and unable to engage with my children.

When I finally got up again, I went to the Doctor and asked for help. She wrote me a prescription for anti-depressants and referred me to a counsellor who could assist me in making sense of my turbulent emotions. With time, I regained control of my mental health, my mood brightened and I was more engaged with my family. I began to read my children’s behaviour much better and took pre-emptive steps to divert and avoid their meltdowns before they happened.

A few months into my new regime of medication and counselling I was chatting with Chris as she fed the horses. “I haven’t heard many tantrums from your place lately. What’s happening?” Chris asked. My response was simple

“I started taking anti-depressants and went to a counsellor!”

My neighbour smiled knowingly. She knew full well that children aren’t always to blame when meltdowns and tantrums occur. The fact of the matter is, a parent’s state of mind and their ability to respond to their children are actually key factors in avoiding the conflicts and misunderstandings that lead to meltdowns. It was a lesson I had to learn on my own.

Five years later, I continue to monitor my mental health, taking medication and seeing my counsellor as needed. It has helped me cope with the passing of my father, an interstate move and more career ups and downs. Despite this, I usually manage to remain the loving, engaged parent my children need. And I can tell you now….there are a whole lot less meltdowns in our house when I am looking after my own mental health!

Louise Griffiths is the founder of Exploring All Options, an educational consultancy and tutoring service that provides alternative ways to teach young people in a way that works best for them. Visit her website here.

Are your kids having a meltdown? Are you a busy parent who wants to care for your mental health? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety

12-reasons-why-a-dog-can-help-you-cope-with-depression-and-anxiety

The World Health Organisation declared April 7 as World Health Day focusing on mental health. This year-long campaign aims to educate, raise awareness and help people suffering from mental illness

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues now affect more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, and more needs to be done to educate and inform people about what we can do to manage them, especially since they are usually also the underlying cause of many other social issues.

A great way to care for our mental health is to care for a pet. Those of us who have a dog in our life know just how important they are to help us stay fit, keep socialising and live life to the full.

My team and I at Pet Gear Lab created this infographic to highlight 12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety. Take a look and make time in your day to experience the health-benefits of animals. Take your dog for a walk, cat-sit for a neighbor or go to an animal refuge and choose your own pet—not only will it improve your health, it will also give you a friend that will last a life time.

For more information about the holistic benefits of pets visit petgearlab.com.

12-ways-mental-health-petgearlab

Do you struggle with a mental illness? Would you like to learn about day-to-day strategies you can use to soothe yourself? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

16 Charts That Will Help You To Chill Out

16-Charts-That-Will-Help-You-To-Chill-Out

At some point stress and tension build up in all of us, fatiguing our body and making it extra difficult to get out of bed. When we feel like this, the last thing we want is someone telling us to ‘chill out’, because it’s not easy to rest when we have so much to do. However, there are some small steps you can take to slowly bring peace back into your day.

We were thrilled when Buzzfeed featured our infographic, ‘76 Stress Relievers’ in their blog post, ‘16 Diagrams That Will Help You Chill The F*** Out’. They include some useful charts on brewing tea, having a spa and even doodling —all great techniques for bringing some peace back into your day.

Head over to the blog post here and scroll through the charts (You’ll find Watersedge at #15), and tell us what technique you’re going to try next time you feel stressed!

Do you struggle to ‘chill out’? Would you like to learn how to relieve your own stress and feel peaceful? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

The five types of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The-five-types-of-Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder

When we think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) we tend to imagine what we have seen on TV: a Niles Crane-esque character who cleans every table he sits at with a wet wipe, or a suburban mum who can’t get out of the house because her door is blocked with miscellaneous items she’s hoarding.

The truth is that these all show extreme facets of OCD, but over time we’ve distorted it to cliché caricatures of the actual illness. So while we may say to someone who likes a tidy home, ‘You’re OCD’, that’s not necessarily true (they might just like a clean house), and the same goes for a person who loves to write lists. They’re not necessarily experiencing OCD, but are naturally organised.

So if the TV is misrepresenting OCD, what does it actually look like?

OCD is an anxiety disorder will affect 3 in every 100 people during their lifetime.  It shows up in numerous ways, but can be identified by re-occurring and unwanted intrusive thoughts, images or impulses (obsessions) and repetitive behaviour and mental rituals (compulsions). * It’s important you know that OCD isn’t rationale. Often a person struggling with the illness won’t want to participate in the activity or thought they are consistently having, they just feel incapable of stopping it.

While television shows us extreme caricatures of what OCD looks like (often centred around an extreme fear of germs or hoarding), it can also appear more subtly: you may feel the incessant need to check every door in the house before you go to bed. A thought may pop up and no matter how many times you try to resolve it, it keeps coming back, or you may keep a few too many keepsakes in the house and the idea of binning any of them overwhelms you.

The infographic below by Therapy Tribe lists the five types of OCD people can experience. While each can occur individually, some people will show symptoms of a few if not all of these in different ways. Each can lead to exhaustion and distress, and when untreated may intrude on day-to-day activities and relationships. *

When treated, someone who experiences OCD can live a healthy and balanced life. Therapy, medication and support groups are all options, and for less severe cases it might simply be a case of talking the compulsion out with a friend until it passes.

Ultimately, the severity of symptoms will change for each individual, and even these can alter depending on their circumstances, stress levels and over all health. So if you or a loved one are experiencing OCD, it’s ok to ask for help and find a strategy that best benefits you.

types-of-ocd

If you are struggling with OCD, or have concerns for a friend displaying obsessive compulsive symptoms, call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

*Information gathered from Sane Australia, 2017.

Six ways to manage social anxiety

Six-ways-to-manage-social-anxiety

It’s the thumping heart, the sweaty palms, and the seeming inability to communicate verbally to the person across from you.

It’s the fear that everyone is silently judging you, and if you make eye contact with them something disastrous could happen.

And it’s the isolation you feel it an overwhelmingly crowded place, when the smallest task takes all your energy to complete.

Social anxiety is a beast. Some of us experience it momentarily, like on the first day of a new job, when we enter a uber-competitive environment or see colleagues in an unexpected place. Other people experience it all the time, and a ‘simple’ activity like shopping or going out to dinner nearly feel unbearable.

As someone who still deals with social anxiety, I know what it’s like to freak out over the simplest tasks. And even though I’ve combatted a lot of my (somewhat irrational) fears over the years, I still panic when I encounter a new situation, I’ve just learned to mask it a lot better.

If you also struggle with social anxiety, here are six ways you can begin to manage it.

  1. Realise it’s normal

Feeling anxious about a situation you think ‘normal people’ are fine with only makes your fear escalate. While not everyone experiences social anxiety, we all feel some sort of awkwardness. Remember that you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable around people. In fact, there are probably others around you at this moment experiencing a similar level of anxiety, you just can’t tell because most of us laugh it off or hide it.

  1. Pre-plan

I’m a terrible decision maker at the best of times, and when I’m in an uncomfortable situation my inability to choose between chai tea and a mocha latte becomes impossible. So when possible, plan where you’re going and what you’ll do there.

If you’re going to an event, make a time to meet up with a friend so you’re not left on your own. If being in a crowded space troubles you, go at a less-busy time, and if talking to a cashier freaks you out, have your money set aside for them before you approach the counter. These are only small steps, but they can help you to avoid an anxiety attack.

  1. Let a friend know

If you struggle in a particular situation, don’t be ashamed to let someone know. A loved one, partner, spouse or friend will likely have already picked up that you’re uncomfortable in some situations, and telling them you have social anxiety will help them to connect the dots.

You can’t always avoid anxiety, but having someone around who understands what you’re experiencing makes a world of difference. Tell them what you need to feel calm, and let them help you to plan for and work through each situation.

  1. Write down your fears

When you’re anxious about something, you might role-play different scenarios in your head until you’re so afraid you decide not to complete the task. It’s important that you consider the event or situation you are entering, but catastrophising about what may occur if you see x or what could happen if you say x, only heightens your emotions.

Before you enter an anxiety-provoking scenario, write down your fears, hopes and expectations around the event. For each fear or problem, write down a possible solution. You may find that just by writing it down, you take away its power and feel more empowered.

Go back over the list when the event is complete, and see what actually occurred. Over time, you’ll begin to control your fear when you realise more often than not, scenarios aren’t as bad as they seem.

  1. Set a time frame

My anxiety is always worse when I am tired and stressed, and I know it’s time to go home when I become unresponsive or irritable. Over time, you’ll learn the physical and mental symptoms you show when you’ve had enough and this will be a sign that you need to have some alone time.

How intense the environment is, the level of social interaction you’ve had and how long you’re out will affect this, so set a time frame for each situation and give yourself permission to leave when its done so you can care for yourself.

  1. See a professional

If your social anxiety is all consuming and you struggle to leave the house, make a phone call or see people, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great first step to managing it.

Lots of places allow you to research therapists online, and some even let you book over the Internet. Ask a friend to drive you to the appointment, and if this feels like too much, ask the therapist if you can connect over Skype or email instead.

It takes time to overcome social anxiety, and for some people (myself included), it becomes a process of learning to manage it. Wherever you’re at, know you’re not alone in these emotions. You can navigate them and with a bit of support, learn to live a happy and healthy life. It just starts with asking for help.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? Would you like some help overcoming your fears? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

The Top 60 Mental Health Blogs in the World

The-Top-60-Mental-Health-Blogs-in-the-World

WatersedgeCouselling is thrilled to share the news that we have been selected as one of the Top 60 Mental Health Blogs in the world by Feedspot!

One of the most comprehensive lists of mental health blogs on the Internet, we are privileged to be included alongside Psych Central, Healthy Place, Active Minds and the Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association.

You can view the complete list here. Take a look through the blogs and see what interests you, From national mental illness associations and non-profits, to professional counsellors and bloggers chronicling their own recovery, you will definitely find something to encourage you. You can even sign up so the best of the 60 blogs is sent to your inbox every week.

Thank you for your continued support of WatersedgeCounselling. We look forward to sharing more informative and useful blogs with you in 2017!