Category Archives: happiness

Don’t listen to the liar!

Hi,

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It’s really tough to remember that depression is a liar. Not a fibber, but a whopping great big, no holds barred, stinky phantom of lies. (And yes, its pants are on fire.)

It tells you that there is no hope, no point to anything, that you’re a waste of space, that you are a blight on other peoples lives…it wants you to believe that every single tomorrow that you have left in your life will be as miserable and energy sapping as today. Depression’s nasty little chemicals want to swamp you.

I’ve been there and I believed the lies for a long time. Too long.

Good news!!!! Today is better, brighter and more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. 

There was light at the end of the tunnel.

The hope was waiting for me to claim and embrace it.

Today, I know me better than I knew me before, what I need and want and feel.

Gone is the drained perennial people pleaser. Here to stay is the new me, the one that deserves to be happy and respected. Sure, it took counselling and a lot of introspection but the liar didn’t win the game. Truth did.

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If you’re depressed please try to find the truth, not the lies that the illness wants you to think are the truth.

You are special.

You have unique qualities.

You have hope for tomorrow.

You are not alone.

You are not weak, pathetic or lacking…you’re suffering from an illness.

 

Jo X

 

 

 

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Happiness hacks

Hi

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Being happy with depression/anxiety/PTSD/OCD takes practice and effort. Even when the worst is over you know the dark cloud might pop back so it’s best to ward off negativity with proactive “make yourself happy and appreciate things” tricks.

Making a list of things to be grateful about may not seem appropriate when you feel like the world is your enemy and that life is less than glorious but actually, being disciplined and making that list can work, although it doesn’t take the chemical imbalance – the illness’ cause away. It can add positives to the apparent sea of negatives though.

Safe.

Have a home.

Loved by family.

Friends and support.

Employed or seeking employment.

Interested in something.

Invested in a hobby.

Not destitute.

Know where to get help.

 

I don’t know whether it’s the same for you but I love effect that the sun has on productivity. Birds singing, bees buzzing, cool drink, laptop and a full on day of writing or reading/research…love it! Summer says “bring it on!”

Obviously being out in the sun (safely) means seratonin production, the happy chemical in your brain, and if you have depression/anxiety you know that all the help you can get is welcome so set to work and seratonin to the max.

Cosy in the winter is good too and working from home I get to wear my smug face as people battle the weather conditions, you know, sat in front of the fire with a hot chocolate, sorry;-)

This took me time to be able to even consider!! Be nice to yourself. Your inner voice can be cruel. That mean voice isn’t the truth, it’s stuck on repeat.

So, you made a mistake at work, pranged your car or forgot to send an e-mail to Aunty Flo…that isn’t the end of the world. You may feel like it is, but the globe will keep on turning and you won’t make it as headline news so please go easy on yourself. You’re human.

Lastly, how often do you congratulate yourself or give yourself a reward?

As part of my CBT therapy about 4 years ago,  my homework for weeks was to enjoy myself ON PURPOSE and until it became a habit. I still do it now, whether it’s a new top, a cream cake, an Animaniacs/Garfield cartoon or an early finish, I treat myself regularly. Why? It feels good.

We often forget ourselves and our contributions as we rush about. Stop, take a moment and say “Good work.” It’s not being boastful or decadent, it’s being nice to your brain, self esteem, confidence and about diminishing stress. Humans are powerful machines, we need to refuel sometimes.

One treat a day can keep negativity at bay.

Happy Wednesday:-) Thanks for reading this.

 

 

 

 

Reading and writing

Hi

I’ve been kept very busy recently with freelance work so thanks everyone, I think I’m becoming not quite expert in an expanding number of areas, but I love information and trivia so my brain is happy.

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Excellent news is that I’m still kicking OCD’s butt, THANK GOD! Had an appt. with my therapist last week for the first time in a while and (not to tempt fate) my brain is mending and it’s definitley more recovered than recovering.

Funny isn’t it, how when you’ve been ill for a long time that when you are reminded that you’re ill it is almost odd? As I’ve been focusing on other things the realisation that my brain is still a little bit poorly actually felt strange…I’m more normal these days and less beseiged by OCD rituals and safety behaviours!

Excellent book – and no, I don’t know him, owe him or get paid to say this! but Matt Haig’s book is brilliant. Titled, Reasons to Stay Alive, it is worth reading whether you’ve been through depression, are going through it or want to understand what someone goes through. It’s got a ton of celeb endorsements too if you like reading those!

My Mary Queen of Scots book is still a work in progress but it will be out before the next millenium, honest!

Have a fab week and please remember to be kind to yourself.

Joanne

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Brain drain

Hi

It’s been a while, time flies! I hope you missed me…what? you didn’t notice I’d been away…Charming!!

thJ7EILSRXAnyhow, I’ve been a busy bod freelance writing a lot of diet, fitness, superfood, exercise blogs and lifestyle articles…it’s amazing how you think you know a subject fairly well but there’s always more to learn! I’ve switched white bread for wholemeal and increased almond eating…apparently they are very good for you. I live, I learn.

It’s lovely when you get good feedback too, thank you to anyone who gives me a fab review, I appreciate the compliment and I know that you don’t have to comment. It’s great for the soul though.

What’s not good is that I’ve been naughty…slapped wrists time…I worked without taking a day off for almost two weeks and guess what? My brain and body kicked my butt! As much as I love a searing headache, feeling overtired and wrung out like an old dish cloth (NOT) I have to remember that my OCD, anxiety brain needs a rest or I’m playing double jeopardy with my recovery which thankfully has been very good these last few weeks. I’m fine now and lesson learned – the hard way. Hmmm.

I’ve also been working on a new book for my series Royal Rifts, this one is on Mary Queen of Scots and her marriages. Stormy! It will be out in the spring. Publication date to follow.

Well, that’s me, and my brain and writing life for the last few weeks so take care and remember to rest your brain cells. They’ll be glad you did!

 

Joanne

So long stinking thinking!

Hi

Let’s talk brain trickery…it is so easy when you have mental illness (or in a rut) to get stuck with stinking thinking. Thank God I suffer from it less than I used to…helped by a brilliant counsellor and CBT but I still fall prey to the occasional (read daily) thought error.

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Like “I should have done this by now.”

“I’m taking too long loading the dishwasher, I have other stuff to do.”

“I must e-mail someone right now. They’ll be waiting.”

Really, the answer should be “why?” or “who said?” “what difference does it make?” “Is it a life of death importance?” BUT somehow the brain blip kicks in and two things happen in response to the stinking thinking:

You start to feel bad, like you’ve done something wrong and you tell yourself to do better, therefore demanding more of yourself which only adds pressure which exacerbates a stress related illness.

Anyone else seeing a vicious circle here?

Apparently it’s called the Demanding Thinking Error… It’s demanding and it’s a thought not a divine or true statement and it’s an error…so think of it as a number in place of a letter or a vegetable instead of a fruit. You don’t have to have it and use it just because it presents itself so if, like me, you have the demanding thinking error, don’t listen to that pesky inner voice, ignore it and remind yourself that life is to be enjoyed, it’s not a speed trial and you are a fabulous person doing just fine!

Happy rest of the day, smile, you’ve earned it. Have a slice of cream cake too, go on, you know you want to!

Joanne

Is the answer always out of reach?

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Hope everyone is looking forward to the weekend, it’s almost here!!

I found myself wondering about something earlier…

Bearing in mind my experiences (ongoing) with depression and anxiety I was told about a friend of a friend who is going through a tough time and I’m going to be honest while I was sympathetic I wasn’t ready to feel sorry for her 100% as I can with other sufferers.

In brief: She is a twenty something single parent (the dad has custody every other weekend) and she never seems to be able to make ends meet, she works part time in a supermarket but doesn’t feel love for the job. Her doctor told her about 4 months ago that she was depressed and prescribed some meds to help.

OK, so far, so good – this is the stuff of life, I believe it’s called situational depression and it must be horrible or it wouldn’t be called depression. However, sympathy from those around her has diminished over the months and I can see why even though I know that depression can rob you of the concept of possibility and opportunity…

She doesn’t like her job – as she likes to tell any and everyone BUT she arrives late regularly, tries to leave early and isn’t keen to work so she often has to be reprimanded by her boss. We all know that the job market isn’t great so jumpin in to another job might not be possible but she won’t try because the present boss does nothing more than reprimand her verbally – water off the proverbial duck’s back.

She also stopped taking the meds but took another two months off work without any pay which wasn’t a popular course of action.

She doesn’t have enough money – this is a problem shared the world over and I can understand that money goes out the door as fast as it comes in. Children can’t live on fresh air and they are constantly growing BUT as soon as she can get a babysitter or the father has custody of her child she turns in to a party animal, gets totally wasted and spends far too much money on “having fun.” Everyone needs fun but every week???

A solution like going out less and saving some money doesn’t seem to have any weight in her mind – she wants to go out, get drunk and be a twenty something like her friends.

The general opinion is that she’s got in to a rut in which she is “happy” to tell everyone how miserable life is and how much she has to put up with but at the same time any help, constructive advice or offers of treatment are being refused or ignored.

So what is she going to do?

Is the answer really out of reach for her?

Does she simply have to face the fact that she can’t live the life her friends have because she’s got responsibilites? 

Is it the depression or her nature that’s costing her the chance of taking control of her life? 

Would “tough love” (NOT STIGMATISING!) help where indulgence hasn’t? 

Is it time to employ the adage “God helps those who help themselves?” 

Questions, questions!!

Interesting, isn’t it? Everyone’s walk with mental health is different, there’s a 1 in 4 chance that you’ll be a sufferer and there’s a 3 in 4 chance that you’ll have to be around to support that person…however long it takes.

We can all learn from another person no matter how many answers we think we have.

Now, in case this is all too serious, here’s a funny picture. Thanks for reading!

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Mrs Santa – Fun Christmas Poem

Hiya

Tis the season to be jolly so here’s a fun Xmas poem…enjoy!

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Mrs Claus

The keen little elf said “Err, hello.”

In a tiny voice, not an elfin bellow

“Have you seen Mr. Santa Claus?

Is he in his office behind those doors?”

 

Mrs. Claus smiled her kindest smile

Newbie elves were sweet, just like a new child

For she and the toy making crew knew

That her husband was turning the air blue

 

Not in the office, paperwork amassing

But outside in the chill enduring a gassing

The poor beardy guy was again falling prey

To back drafts caused not by his sleigh

 

The reindeers were enjoying giggling fits

The mayhem was courtesy of Mrs. S’s titbits

She would insist on giving the reindeer molasses curry

Before their MOT’s she’d get cooking, all of a flurry

 

It’s a strange coincidence Santa thought

As some fresh air and his breath he caught

That it’s always somehow a curry dinner the night

I say the next day it’s MOT’s and practice flights

Dishing up for all, Mrs. S would sweetly smile at him

And say that she’d cooked up curry on a whim

Poor Rudolph’s nose never lost its glow

After the 1924 vindaloo went down below

“Daydreaming, Mrs. S?” Her sleeve was tugged by elf, Ed

“You’d better give it five minutes,” she knowingly said

“Or it won’t only be your clothes that are green.”

Ed frowned, “Whatever, lovely lady, do you mean?”

 

“Well, Santa’s doing reindeer MOT’s in the snow

With last night’s dinner he’s meeting ho ho ho!”

“Surely you’ve not indulged in foul play, Mrs. Claus?”

She folded her arms, grinned through the pause

 

“Ask the elder elves, they’ll tell you Santa won’t let me take flight

Or steer the lovely reindeers on any Christmas night

Always it’s a no ho ho when I ask but he’ll get the hint one day I’m sure

In the meantime for his Christmas roses there’ll be spicy manure

And for us an annual work day bonus of entertainment galore!”

 

Have a fab rest of the day and holiday season, Joanne :-)X

Reach out, make it a goal.

Hi

It’s Monday, fancy a superduper fabulously brilliant pep talk/great idea?

Excellent! Have a read of this…Pretty please with a cherry on top!

Think serious, think goal for the week/month/year/millenium.

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I’ve just been reading an article about women who have chosen not to have children, not because they are horrible people with no compassion but they just don’t feel maternal and so feel it would be worse for them to bring a child in to the world that they don’t really really want than to conform with the status quo and procreate. One of the women pointed out something that I instantly related back to mental health although the two matters are entirely different. Bear with me, it’ll make sense.

She commented that a girl could get pregnant legally at 16 but not having children was not the traditional expectation, NOT having a child was somehow unacceptable and deeply frowned upon.

In the world of health and illness I would say that there are things which are considered more acceptable and others less so. Imagine “I’ve got diabetes” versus “I’ve got depression.”

Chances are that diabetes will get a sympathetic smile, a question like, “do you take insulin?” or “how does it affect your diet?” and the chemical defect in the body will be “acceptable.”

Now, let’s look at “I’ve got depression.”

Possible comments are “Buck up/Perk up/Snap out of it.” “What’ve you got to be depressed about?” “Oh yeah, I was ****ed of last Tuesday.” or “Are you on happy pills?” All accompanied by a wary or dismissive look or gesture.

Loud and clear a message is sent back to the unfortunate sufferer: “Depression = Not acceptable.”

Hmm, that’s not fair.

It took me far too long to accept that depression is also a chemical imbalance, there is no real difference between the two illnesses if you take them back to the words chemical imbalance. Insulin is seen as necessary medication to live a normal and rewarding life, anti depressants are given a derisive name “happy pills.”

So a person with depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD etc. is classed as what? Weak? Lacking? hey, that’s YOUR BAD not the sufferer’s. They can quite easily feel weak, swamped, like they are deficient, alone and fighting themselves and the world’s stigma so they really don’t need any additional unhelpful comments.

BTW: Yes, sufferers know that you think you’ll say something wrong and we’ll burst in to tears so you subtly avoid them/the subject but please be brave, you don’t have to hold a psychology degree to help…how’s about these comments plus a smidgen of your precious time instead:

“Do you need to talk?”

“Can I help?”

“I’m here for you.”

“Remember, it’s an illness nothing to feel bad about.”

“You are 100% NOT WEAK. It’s a chemical thing.”

“Don’t be ashamed, the medication will make you feel more like you.” 

As a sufferer even knowing that you aren’t alone can feel like a miracle when your brain seems to be working against you.

So, if there is someone around you who is suffering from a mental illness they may just need to know that you’re on their team not chief judge, jury and executioner of any of their remaining self esteem. Reach out, a small gesture moves mountains. 

Alone is a lonely place, everyone knows that! Give someone a hug, give their brain a friendly smile and not an unfortunate comment.

We all know that stigma can be overcome, please be a someone who does that rather than a someone who helps to build the crappy stigma pile up to the sky.

THANK YOU!

Have a fab week.

Joanne

Halloween Poem

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Hocus Pocus

Here it is again, that time of year

When spooks and horrors draw near

Sugar high kids in macabre costumes

Who cackle, howl and speak of doom

For those rare few who issue no tasty treats

Fear not, there is a way to trick and to treat

For a homeowner so ingenious and magical

Think of Harry Potter, Sooty and his pals

Whip out your old Paul Daniel’s Magic Set

And the kids’ll be tricked, thrilled in to defeat

As to applaud your conjuring skills they’ll be made

Before their hallowe’en debt has been classed paid

A word of caution, from a wise and ravishing witchy being

Give the kids sweets too or rotten eggs and slime you’ll be seeing.

 

 

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween…try not to get too spooked! 

Joanne 🙂

We made it!

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We made it to the weekend so chill out and think calm, lovely brainpower restoring thoughts, your brain will be soooooo grateful. You know what? You work too hard! It told me so.

I’m going to try not to do any work over the weekend…I’ve said that before though and normally I can’t resist! but I am reading a fabulous book at the mo, it’s by Victoria Holt who was really Eleanor Hibbert, sadly she died in 1993 but her  gothic thrillers ROCK. (By the way she also wrote as Jean Plaidy and Phillippa Carr and her books should all be brought back in to publication!)

If your clocks are changing this weekend enjoy the extra hour.

Happy weekending

JoanneTTC_TTTDay1