The Top 60 Mental Health Blogs in the World

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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!

This is what mental illness feels like

This is what mental illness feels like

One of the best ways to cope with mental illness is to express it creatively. Some people do this by crafting, colouring, drawing or knitting. To cope with her anxiety, illustrator (and self-proclaimed lover of pugs) Gemma Correll draws.

From witty drawings of what it means to be in a relationship, to expressions of what it feels like to be overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, her illustrations capture what life with mental illness feels like to a tee. Gemma’s work has been featured on book covers, greeting cards and was used on Mental Health America’s ‘Mental Illness Feels Like’ series. We’ve chosen some of our favourites to share with you.

View more of Gemma’s work here, and then have a go drawing yourself. What does mental illness feel like in your life? Get a pencil and you’ll find healing as you express it on paper.

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Do you struggle with anxiety? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

This is how porn affects the brain

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After Pamela Anderson spoke up about the harmful effects of pornography in recent months, the epidemic has been given more attention by the media. The fact is though, porn has been affecting people for years. And while it is often viewed as ‘normal,’ and even ‘harmless’, research has shown that viewing porn has the exact opposite effect on people.

This infographic by Fight The New Drug explains what pornography does to the brain. Like any other addiction, it creates a cycle of dependency in the brain and literally rewires it chemically to crave porn. The more you consume, results in less of a reaction, which means the person needs harder and more graphic porn to receive the same high they received when they started.

Aside from the detrimental affect porn has on the brain, it also dramatically impacts peoples over all health and relationships. People who view porn are often struggle with feelings of depression, stress and anxiety, and their sexual desire, levels of aggression and perceptions of the opposite sex are also impacted. This is why relationships suffer when one partner views porn, and many break down.

To find out more about porn’s affect on the brain, visit Fight the New Drug.

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Is pornography affecting your relationships or wellbeing? Is your partner or a loved one addicted to porn? 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 press book now to book in our online diary.

It’s time to take a break from social media

It’s time to take a break from social media

I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I read the comments. Yet I compulsively kept scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking back to see if anybody else had responded.

It was the morning after the US election, and my news feed had lit up with over-arching statements, generalities and sharp, personal attacks. Like most millennials, I spend a disproportionate time in front of my phone screen, often to the detriment of my own health. The social commentary around the election had only elevated this, and over a period of three days I felt increasingly anxious, lethargic and unwell.

Technically, I should have stepped back from social media as soon as I became unsettled: but it’s like a drug. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, and the last thing I see at night. And even when I feel the negative side effects, it only takes one ‘like’ to receive the hit of gratification I need to keep going through the day.

I know it’s unhealthy, but as someone who works in communications, using social media is part and the parcel of my life. Yet after those few days of feeling depressed, I finally realised just how dangerous my social media obsession was, and I had to stop.

After I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat off my phone I didn’t feel incredibly different. But over the few days I spent on ‘sabbatical’ from my personal social media, I detoxed. The negativity, anxiety and anger ebbed away, and I regained some control of my emotional wellbeing.

I don’t have a perfect remedy to the negative side effects of social media, largely because I do enjoy using it. Facebook gives me the ability to connect with friends on the other side of the world, stay up-to-date with news, and do business. But now I’m back on, I realise I need to control it, rather than every comment, smiley face or emoji controlling me.

It’s not easy to step back from social media, but sometimes your own wellbeing requires you to put up boundaries in cyberspace as well as in real life. Here’s some indicators you may need your own social media sabbatical.

  1. You check it compulsively

It’s normal to check your social media regularly, but if you’re struggling to get through the hour without scrolling through your news feed, it’s time to stop. Social media should add value to your life, not detract from you actually living it.

  1. You have FOMO

FOMO (Fear of missing out) comes from a place of deep insecurity and a need for acceptance. Checking Twitter to stay ‘in the loop’ and finding value in the conversations, events and photos you’re in only adds to this mindset and will leave you unhappy.

  1. It’s compromising your real-life relationships

Online relationships are never a substitute for real life relationships. If your social media is detracting from time spent investing in your marriage, couple relationship, family time or friendships, you need to reprioritise.

  1. It’s distracting you

If you’re taking a Snap Chat while a friend is talking to you, you’re ignoring them. And while it’s become increasingly acceptable to be on social media while we’re with our friends and family, its essential we draw boundaries to keep our face-to-face interactions sacred.

The same goes for the work place. If you’re spending more time on your own social media than doing paid work, either behind a desk or with clients, it’s time to readjust your habits.

  1. You’ve created a pseudo identity

Some people create a false identity online with a different name and life for themselves. More often than not though, we keep our name but embellish our identity.

That means we only share ‘impressive’ images, great selfies, speak a certain way, or create hidden relationships in cyberspace. People online aren’t seeing a true representation us, and basing our identity on this is unhealthy and can be damaging.

  1. It negatively impacts your emotions

If being online causes to feel anxious, angry, agitated, depressed or nauseous, it’s time for a break. You may not even realise social media is cause of these feelings (and often the physical symptoms accompanying them), especially if this is a regular occurrence.

To test this, write down how you are feeling immediately after you check your social media. Then spend half a day free of it, and write down how you are feeling. Compare your lists: is there any difference? Before you check it again, write down any feelings you have. If you feel anxious or agitated by compulsion to use social media you’ll notice and can adjust your habits accordingly.

Are you addicted to social media? Does the idea of not being online make you feel anxious? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now to book on the online diary.

Making anti-depressants part of a holistic recovery

Making anti-depressants part of a holistic recovery

Throughout my life, my mental health has gone up and down dramatically. At my worst, I had issues with substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal idealisation. On more than one occasion I almost followed through. Eventually I went to a doctor and was put on some antidepressants.

They saved my life. However, despite being great at keeping me alive, they were certainly not ideal. Regardless of the type I tried, I faced the same issues: nausea, headaches, lack of appetite, an inability to drive and lethargy.

After a few months of living in ambiguity, I realised what was happening and I didn’t like it. Life felt bland and muted—a side effect some people feel on anti-depressant medication, which can impact them for both the short and long term.

There had to be another way. So upon a friend’s advice, I started seeing a psychologist for regular therapy sessions (great idea) and stopped antidepressants cold turkey (horrible idea).

Thankfully I was now receiving expert help. My psychologist was able to recognise my problems and help me move towards recovery. She also worked me through the transition off medication and initiated other forms of therapy. Medication became a backup to be used if my mental state falls significantly.

Under the guidance of a GP, taking anti-depressants can be a helpful tool in recovery, but they should always be part of a holistic approach to your health. Here are seven strategies you can implement right now:

Sport and Exercise
Exercise releases positive hormones, gets the blood pumping and makes you feel good. In addition, the social aspect of a sport cannot be understated, as the friends and comradery gained can last a lifetime.

Writing
This has been the best form of therapy for me and I couldn’t recommend it more. Poetry, free writing, fiction or a simple diary, the choice is yours. Through writing, you can privately express everything, honing the words until they perfectly reflect how you feel.

Reading

Reading is one of the best forms of mindful distraction. Reading forces you to focus on the present moment, which, for the duration of the read, is in a fictional universe. Focused attention to the present moment has tremendous benefits for mental health and the escapism aspects of fiction cannot be understated.

Good diet

You are what you eat, literally. Your brain is just another organ of the body and as such it is vital that it is being properly maintained. A good diet that has a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats combined with lots of water will ensure that your hardware is well maintained and working properly.

Meditation
More and more people are turning to a daily meditation practice to help calm a troubled mind. There are endless methods, books and apps available, but the key here is to develop and maintain a habit. Personally I have found that mindfulness meditation focusing on the breath, mala beads or a mantra to be particularly beneficial.

Socialization
Humans are social animals; we thrive on friendships and connection. Where at all possible, make the choice to hang out with your friends, even if for only a small amount of time. If there is somebody in whom you can confide, talk with them, you will be surprised what opening up to people can do.

Goal Setting

Setting and chasing goals can be amazing, choose something that you want to accomplish and begin to work towards it. This is what life is all about, striving to achieve something. If you define your goals and display them prominently they can provide a source of drive and motivation. Just make sure they follow the SMART principle. 

Professional help

Professional help cannot be understated. A psychologist or counsellor is somebody who has trained and has experience helping people with similar issues to what you are feeling. Feel free to try a few different ones before settling; you need to ensure a good fit.

Zachary Phillips is a survivor of suicide and a mental health advocate. You can view his blog here. His book Under ‘The Influence – Reclaiming My Childhood’ is out now.

Do you struggle with feelings of isolation and lethargy? Would you like support to enter holistic recovery ? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects more people than you think

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known to affect veterans and people who have been in combat, but did you know it could also come about through other experiences?

A life-threatening situation or traumatic event can occur in numerous ways—physical or sexual assault, being sexually abused as a child, an accident, witnessing death or injury, or a natural disaster can all cause a person to develop PTSD.

This infographic by Upworthy and the Psychological Care and Treatment Centre reveals just how vast the net of PTSD is over the community. It affects 5.2 million people each year, and while it can go undiagnosed or is known by different names, it dramatically affects a person’s wellbeing and their quality of life.

PTSD is more than just the stress of a traumatic event; it is the brain trying to cope with an experience that it feels it is still living out. So, while a person may be at home and safe, a trigger (such as a sound, light, memory, image or feeling) can engage the fight-or-flight response in their brain, which initiates the same feelings, emotions and physical symptoms felt during the event.

Due to this, shame, anger and irritability are all symptoms, and insomnia and nightmares can affect people with PTSD. They may also have flashbacks, causing their body and mind to respond in distress. They may act violently, becoming lethargic and rigid, or unresponsive.  Many people with PTSD will also experience depression.

Psychical symptoms are a key aspect of PTSD, and you will find that people experiencing this can feel numbness, stabbing pains, pins and needles, spasming, aching muscles, dizziness and even fainting. Due to this, treatment for PTSD can be aided by massage and care of the physical body as well as the mind.

As this infographic shows, PTSD is a complex illness that occurs uniquely for each person. However, there are many ways you can support a loved one, friend, colleague or member of your community who is experiencing this.

By encouraging people to seek counselling and psychological support, they will find the support they need to work through their trauma. Seeing a GP is also beneficial as medication can assist a person with PTSD. Aside from this, be gracious and patient with your loved ones. Nurse them through their episodes, and when they are ready to talk, listen.

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Have you experienced trauma? Does your loved one have PTSD? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

This is what anxiety looks like

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What happens when you feel anxious? Does your heart rate rise? Do your palms get sweaty? Would you like to run away?

We all experience some form of anxiety and worry, but for people who live with an anxiety disorder, these feelings are more extreme.

In this infographic by Mental Health America, we learn that anxiety doesn’t just affect someone’s thoughts—it also affects the body and their behaviours.  People without anxiety may tell a friend to ‘get over it’, ‘it’s not as bad as it seems,’ or to simply, ‘stop worrying,’ but a person struggling knows this won’t do anything—in fact, the stress of thinking it’s ‘wrong’ to feel so anxious, may make the symptoms worse.

Anxiety is broad and can appear different for each person. Anxiety disorders range from panic disorder, to obsessive compulsive tendencies, social anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder. The cause of anxiety and it’s symptoms vary, but, as the infographic says below, it is marked by feelings of being completely overwhelmed, feeling powerless, experiencing incredibly heightened physical responses like heart palpitations, and/or living in a constant state of fear.

People who experience anxiety will often feel isolated and alone. The good news though, is they are not. In recent years, we’ve learnt that two millions Australians experience anxiety every year, and more than 21 per cent of American adults have an anxiety disorder. By talking about this mental illness, we let our friends and family know that they can get through life and not just survive, but thrive.

If you struggle with anxiety, take a look at the coping techniques listed below. Talking to someone you trust, doing exercise, practicing deep breathing and doing mindfulness are all great strategies when you feel inhibited and your body is in panic mode.

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Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety, fear and being isolated? Would you like to break free of your anxiety? Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.

5 Questions to Ask a Loved One At Risk

5 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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. Visit Hope Movement to find support near you. 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.

10 Online Mental Health Resources You Should Know About

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Mental health resources are at your your fingertips with the World Wide Web, but it can be overwhelming to dig through Google and find the most useful tools for yourself or a loved one.

We’ve spent some time exploring what mental health initiatives are out there and selected 10 of the best to share with you. Some we’ve used ourselves, others we have worked with, volunteer for, or often refer people to.

Take a look and let us know what you think of these resources and organisations. Have we missed any great ones? Let us know in the comments!

  1. eHeadspace

Not only does Headspace have centres all around Australia, but they also have a great online community. Designed to support 15-25 year olds struggling with mental health issues, this website links with the Headspace website and includes fact sheets, discussion, a helpline, online chat and email crisis help. eHeadspace will also point you to your closest Headspace centre so you can receive further help.

  1. To Write Love On Her Arms

This Florida based non-profit exists to bring help and hope to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide, and is particularly appealing to teens and young adults as it has built its following around popular culture and music. TWLOHA’s website includes national helplines in America, great service providers in each US capital city, and a blog with contributions from people around the globe.

  1. The Black Dog Institute

A world leader in diagnosis, treatment and suicide prevention, this non-profit organisation focuses on mental illness, specifically mood disorders. Partnering their research and hard facts with tips and tools to overcome depression, they have some great videos and campaigns that can be shared on social media.

  1. RAAIN

RAAIN (Rape, abuse, and incest national network) is America’s largest anti-sexual assault organisation, partnering with rape crisis centres around the country. On their website, they educate the public around the sexual assault of children and adults, share stories of survivors, and provide extensive victim services. Aside from their online help service at online.raain.org, they also have a DoD safeline for members of the Defence community and a 24/7 phone line available for the public (+1 800 656-HOPE).

  1. The Trevor Project

Created for LGBTQ and questioning youth, The Trevor Project fills the gap in educating and supporting teens as they explore their sexuality. Informing and supporting young people aged 13-24, this is a pivotal organisation for LGBTQ youth who struggle with mental illness or need an understanding community. Along with their website, they also have online chat, text and a 24/7 the ‘Trevor Lifeline’ (+1 866-488-7386)

  1. Touchbase

Touchbase is an Australian website launched by the VAC that supports and educates LGBTQ people of all ages. It covers a variety of relevant topics, discussing everything from the effects of drugs and alcohol, to sexual health and mental health. Touchbase uses real stories from LGBTQ Australians to support and educate the community, and they also provide a toolkit and links to helplines and resources in each state.

  1. Beyond Blue

The primary mental health initiative in Australia, this organisation raises awareness and educates people about depression and anxiety. They provide a suicide safety planning app ‘BeyondNow’, and use stories of Australians to educate the public so they can recognise mental illness in themselves and their loves ones. Beyond Blue also have a 24 hour support line (1300 22 4636).

  1. Hope Movement

Based in Geelong, Victoria, this non-profit facilitates an online community that links people with services in their hometown. They provide an online database that points people to the organisations, community groups, churches and professionals in each catchment of Victoria, and also have a blog covering the topics of mental health, self-worth and community.

  1. Active Minds, Inc.

Based in Washington DC, Active Minds exists to ‘eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness’. Empowering college students around the US to begin chapters on campus to educate and support the student body, the non-profit empowers young adults to speak up about mental illness and seek help during this pivotal time in life. You’ll find Active Mind’s social media activity useful for reaching teens and raising awareness in your own circles.

  1. Ted Talks

Ted Talks cover a vast range of topics, and if you delve into their archives, you’ll find some gems surrounding the topics of mental illness, community and vulnerability. Usually running for 10 minutes, talks are available for professionals like Brené Brown, and mental health advocates like comedian Kevin Breel. The Ted-Ed section also covers the educational aspect of mental illness, using simple graphics to explain the complexities of depression.

Are you or a loved one experiencing depression or anxiety? Do you need some support through a difficult situation? 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.

The 8 Faces of Grief

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There is no one-way to grieve. If you think back to a time when you have grieved the loss of a loved one, you might notice that you reacted very differently to another family member or friend. In this article Colleen wrote for PsychCentral, she talks about the 8 faces of grief, and how they may appear in your own life. Whether you have experienced abbreviated grief from a need to ‘move on’, a chronic grief that causes you ongoing pain, or a delayed grief, each experience is valid and needs to be acknowledged. You can read the article here.

Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. 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 press book now to book on the online diary.