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

post-traumatic-stress-disorder-affects-more-people-than-you-think

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.

post-traumatic-stress-disorder-infographic

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

This-is-what-anxiety-looks-like

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.

Life-with-Anxiety-infographic

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

10-Online-Mental-Health-Resources-You-Should-Know-About

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

The-8-Faces-of-Grief

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.

How to Cope with Traumatic News

How-to-Cope-with-Traumatic-News

Often when we watch the news, it feels like a constant barrage of heart break, negativity and evil is being thrown at us. It is important that we are informed and know what is going on in the world, but what do we do when it all becomes too much? There is a fine line between awareness and feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders. Many of us will feel a ball of anxiety sitting in our chest, may find it harder to sleep, and can replay scenes and headlines through our head long after the event has passed.

It is important that you know it is okay to feel like this. You don’t have to be directly impacted by traumatic news or a crisis to feel the effects of it, and we will frequently see our loved ones respond to these reports in a way that is damaging to their physical and mental health.

In this illustrated guide prepared by Lucy Fahey of ABC News, we are shown how traumatic news affects us. In fact, over 6 hours of news coverage a day has been shown to significantly impact people. It can change our mindsets, make us feel isolated, and can impact our normal, everyday activities. By highlighting the basic steps we can take to care for children and ourselves when traumatic news airs, we can implement the coping strategies we need to care for our wellbeing.

How to Cope with Traumatic News Infographic

Do you struggle with traumatic news coverage? Do you find it impeding on your everyday life? 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.

Boy Meets Depression

World Mental Health Day Banner

Image of Kevin Breel via theoneproject.ca

 

What does it mean to meet depression? What does it look like, to have it take you by the hand and slowly infiltrate your life, until you forget what your existence was like before it was present?

This World Mental Health Day, we want to explore what it means to meet depression. Few people explain it so vividly as 21- year-old comedian Kevin Breel, in his book “Boy Meets Depression.”

Depression Quote

Beyond Blue tells us that Depression is the leading cause of disability, and that it is estimated 1 million Australian’s experience Depression every year. In Australia, 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness, yet 65% of people with a mental illness do not seek treatment (Black Dog Institute). Statistically, you know someone with depression, or perhaps you live with it yourself. In any case, it is common. And while we tend to sweep it under the rug, as it’s something we can’t visibly see- like a broken limb- we are incapacitated by it on a daily basis.

In “Boy Meets Depression” we are given a close up account of what this unwelcome and often unexpected guest (or permanent resident) looks like through the eyes of a teenager. We also see the warning signs and the scenarios that pre-empt it.

Family of Origin

Family Quote

Even as a child, Breel knew his family was unhealthy. His parents slept in different bedrooms and showed no love to each other, and his father, being severely depressed, constantly drank alcohol to numb his pain. His older sister was never home in an effort to escape the conflict. But 5-year-old Breel was unable to escape, so he simply came home to an empty house, living inside his own imagination to pass the time.

Every family of origin will look different, but a broken relationship between spouses and with one or both parents sets the stage for depression. This may appear early for children and adolescents, but for some adults it may occur later in life as they confront unresolved issues.

Social Environment

Bully Quote

There are few things harsher than the school environment. Breel found this first hand when he was the victim of perpetual bullying from a young age. There is no rhyme or reason to bullying, but an awareness of it in the schoolyard, work place or home, is key to understanding depression. Breel’s constant torment fed him lies about his lack of value and identity, and ultimately resulted in a misrepresentation of himself as he entered his teens and was diagnosed with severe depression.

Grief

Grief Quote

Grief over a loved one, a past relationship or an experience, can all play an instrumental role as Depression extends it’s hand towards us. After losing his best friend in a car accident at 12, Breel felt even more alone in the world and lived in a perpetual state of grief. He changed schools to escape the questions and concern that followed.

Masks

Mask quote

 When we are experiencing depression, we will often try to cloak this from the people around us. Breel’s insecurities were virtually invisible to the people around him as he threw himself into the role of the class clown and the comedian. His persona protected him from being fully known, while inside he hated himself. It was this mask that followed Breel into his darkest moments, as he penned a suicide note to his mother.

It was in this moment that things began to change for Breel. There is no easy ‘cure’ for Depression, and after deciding to literally stay alive, a long and difficult journey followed for Breel. It took time for him to open up and share his struggles with his mother, and countless therapy session to begin working through the depression that had nearly taken his life.

When we meet Depression, we become a shell of who we are. While it ultimately comes down to the individual to choose recovery, understanding these warning signs gives us the ability to ask the question, “Are you ok?” This opens the door for help, showing the people we care about that there is a way out. There is life beyond depression.

Recovery quote

Kevin Breel’s book ‘Boy Meet’s Depression’ is available on Amazon.

For more information on what it means to meet depression, watch Kevin’s TedX Talk ‘Confessions of a Depressed Comic’ here.

If you are struggling with Depression or thoughts of self harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, despair, depression, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. 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 with Colleen or Duncan by going to the orange button titled CLICK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts.

Australia Counsellling mental health blogger

The 34 Best Bloggers Who Advocate for Mental Health and Wellness

The-34-Best-Bloggers-Who-Advocate-for-Mental-Health-and-WellnessWatersedgeCounselling has just been named one of the Top 34 Best Blogs on the Internet Who Advocate and Inform People About Mental Health and Wellness. We are so excited to have been recognised by Australian Counselling, and are thrilled our weekly blog posts are not only reaching people, but also making an impact.

To peruse the list, you can visit Australian Counselling here.

To celebrate, we want to ask you a question.

What do you want to see more of on WatersedgeCounselling?

Whether you are a fan of infographics, relationship centred pieces, wellness based blogs ,or drug and alcohol education themed posts; we want to know what most interests you.

Let us know by commenting below. Thank you for being a part of the Watersedge journey and reading our work every week. We look forward to bringing you more thoughtful and useful content in the future.

~ Colleen and the Watersedge Team

Do you want to learn how to take better care of your mental health? Would you like to discuss how to create a lifestyle of wellness?  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 Deal with Depression

How-to-Deal-with-Depression

Beyond the statistics that tell us depression is the most common mental illness in the western world, we know it is an illness that inhibits millions of people. It drains you of energy, sapping the light from your life and makes you feel isolated and alone. This week Colleen was asked by Australian Counselling to share some of her advice on how to deal with depression. Joining other therapists, she gives us some simple and effective advice on the steps we can take to recover from depression and feel healthy and motivated again.

Focusing on the more creative methods of working through depression; including colouring in, going for a walk and embracing your inner child, she shares some often looked over tips that can brighten your mood and assist you as you walk through it.

You can see Colleen’s tips on how to deal with depression and the thoughts of seven other counsellors by reading the blog here.

If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, despair, depression, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover.

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 with Colleen or Duncan or press Book Now to book in our online diary.