Modern Day Girl

All About Mental Health Inspiration For Women

Month: May 2016

This Lil Mind of Mine – A Series on Mental Health – Joce’s Story

So we’re at another week of my mental health series – This Lil Mind of Mine. Today we meet Jocelyn (such a lovely name!)

She can usually be found, along with her blogger friend, at Oh Dear, Deer! Go check it out. It makes a great read!

Advice and help on mental health. what do you tell your friends? Do they know, how do you tell them? How does it affect you?

Lets meet the woman herself!

Mental health, advice, speaking with friends and family, shareing your hopes and dreams, advice for your younger self, advice for other people suffering from anxiety

Tell me a little about yourself (and your blog if applicable)! As much or as little as you want

Hi! I’m Jocelyn. I blog over at Oh dear, DEER! with my friend and cousin Tracie. We share food (Tracie is currently in France for pastry school), crafts, travel, wellness and life. We started blogging the end of February so we are still new to blogging and trying to figure it all out, and (mostly) enjoying it along the way!

I currently work to pay the bills and have just started testing the waters of a natural nutrition diploma. I have lived in Nova Scotia, Canada for all my life (except one year at university in Guelph, Ontario) where we have two seasons; winter and pothole repair season. I had a really bad depression and anxiety episode last year (which I will talk about further in the next question) that I am still recovering from but am making my best efforts to move forward.

How does your anxiety/mental illness affect you?

For me this can be broken down into two categories; mind and body. I have had some form of anxiety and/or depression follow me since high school, but never dealt with such overwhelming body symptoms as I have over this past year and a half. My bad episode of depression and heightened anxiety was from January to about the end of April in 2015. I was barely functional and spent most of my time home watching TV shows. While the depression lifted in April 2015 the extra anxiety decided to stick around, and hasn’t made a move to leave yet.

Body: From this episode my muscles are consistently much tighter than they used to be. I had a lot of tingling and numbness in my arms, legs and face. Which of course I came up with the worst possible scenarios for in my head, don’t need the internet’s help there! It’s not as bad as it was but all day my shoulders are reaching for my ears if I don’t make the conscious effort to relax. I was taking yoga teacher training at the time and from the weekend in December to the one in January they could tell the difference. The instructors kept saying relax, relax more…and my body just wouldn’t relax no matter how much of an effort I made. My fight or flight mode is always on high alert! This has made me hyper aware of body sensations and now they freak me out.

Mind: Mentally I feel exhausted from holding myself together through most days. Even if my work day isn’t super busy it still feels like I’ve run a marathon internally. My thoughts get in the way a lot. Thinking I am not good enough, or what if this happens, or why did I say that etc. It keeps me from doing everything I want to do, but I am slowly picking up tools and trying to talk back to my thoughts. It comes in waves; I have weeks where I shut in on myself and don’t do anything, and other weeks where I feel okay to be out in the world.

Do your friends/family know? If so, have you involved them at all?

I think the majority of them do. After last year’s episode I was pretty open with it. It felt to me like if I didn’t talk about it it would consume me. It felt so much that way that for a while after last year’s episode I had a hard time interacting with new people who didn’t know about it. Therapists can be expensive, and if I am not able to make it to an anxiety peer group I rely on friends for having someone to talk to. A few friends who have dealt with similar issues were my rocks for getting through the worst times. It was tough explaining about it to some family and friends at first, but worth the effort in the end.

What positives do you think come with having a mental illness?

Going through difficult times helps open your eyes to what other people might be going through and why they may act a certain way. Sometimes we are able to read the signs of someone who may be dealing with mental illness, help them realize why they have been feeling so crappy and give them ideas of where to find helpful resources. I like being able to relate with others and help out if I can.

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Excellence, not perfection. You don’t have to put so much effort into everything. So long as you are learning it doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, they don’t define you and what other people think of you doesn’t define you either. You can’t make everyone happy all the time, you will burn yourself out and drive yourself crazy if you try. Follow your dreams. The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. Don’t be stupid with money but don’t be so afraid of it you miss out on what you really want to do.

What advice would you give anyone else who feels they may suffer from anxiety?

Talk to someone. The worst of it is feeling alone and trying to explain what you are going through to someone who doesn’t understand. I would recommend checking out a peer group for anxiety and/or depression if there is one in your community (or online!). It really helped me to feel less alone just by listening to people talk about the same things I was experiencing everyday. And when I finally had the courage to share my story I felt heard, and that my feelings were validated. It can be tricky to explain to someone who has never dealt with anxiety before what you are going through, gather analogies and do the best you can.

Look for tools that work for you to deal with anxiety. It can be trial and error to find what you are most comfortable with. There’s lots of information on the internet or a therapist can help, if you have access to one. Tools can range from medication to breathing techniques to healthy eating and exercise and more.

Never be afraid to share and reach out. One of the positives about anxiety is that you have a common ground with more people than you would ever think.

On a side note – what are your hopes and dreams?

My dream is to one day open a retreat center here in Nova Scotia. There isn’t really any year-round, week plus stays for retreat centers east of Ontario. We have a few that are at camps or cottages in the summer but no real dedicated facilities. I feel like we all need a place to go and unwind in the busy world. Someday I hope to provide one! With healthy whole foods, meditation, yoga, spa facilities, workshops on mindfulness and more! That’s the big hope and dream, build a lifestyle where I look after myself and can help others do the same. Shorter term I hope to start and finish a natural nutrition diploma and re-take yoga teacher training (I had a break down half way through the first time I took it and wasn’t able to fully complete all the assignments/teaching practice).

What makes you happy?

Slow mornings where I am not rushed to get anywhere. Enjoying a cup of tea (while checking yesterday’s blog traffic). Reading a good book. Learning something new, in an unrushed environment. I recently took a photography workshop to learn how to use a camera I had for a while and really enjoyed it! Friday night Skype dates with my blogging partner. Sharing and connecting with people. And snuggles with my cat 🙂

I can relate to all of this. I hope you’ve found it useful! Do share your opinions and thoughts on this!

Again go visit her and her friends blog – it’s really great 🙂

Busting the Myths and Facts on Anxiety

I thought this was a necessary post considering the shift I am experiencing with my writing. I’m really enjoying talking about mental health.

I’m also loving the reaction it is getting. Everyone so far is so supportive of the things I am writing about. But I know not everyone is like you, my lovely readers. There are still some of us who don’t understand and probably don’t care.

This is where I’m stepping in now! Even though I can understand why some might not be interested, I’ve got a good reason.

The hard facts are that at some point in people’s lives it will be them, or someone close to them who will suffer from a mental illness. Which means we are all part of it in some way. Plus, we all have brains!

I thought I’d spend some time today going through some of the normal reactions towards those suffering from a ‘moment’, or to their diagnosis in general.

The myths and facts about anxiety and mental health. We aren't blubbering messes, it's not all in our head

The myths and facts around mental health and anxiety


We are all blubbering messes.

Those of us with a mental health issue are prone to heightened feelings. This can make us tearful, on edge and upset. I know I am prone to my moments where I am actually a blubbering mess, but I’m not like this all the time. Not all of us are like this, and definitely not all the time.

The feelings and emotions going on in our head do make us more susceptible to society’s words and glares. I think I can speak for most of us here in saying that we don’t want to be named or shamed in this way.

There’s enough on our plate managing with our diagnosis (or lack thereof) and then having to worry about what other’s think we look like.

We are not all blubbering messes.

That it’s all in our head

This is a very common misconception. It’s still a major cause of anxiety for those suffering from a mental health condition. We’d very much appreciate it if we weren’t accused of making it up.

Now, this statement is actually a true statement. Mental health originates from the brain. We can’t escape from our brain unfortunately. So we definitely wouldn’t be making it up if we decided to talk about it. In most cases, we’re talking about it to try to figure it out.

The problem with such mental illnesses, along with stress, your body reacts in a physical way. For example when I’m having a panic attack. My chest hurts, my shoulders tense, my hands go cold and my heart is beating extremely fast. It is a real thing. I bloody wish it wouldn’t happen.

Therefore by telling myself and others that it’s all in our head, you’re likely to anger a lot of people! It’s just not true.

You can’t just ‘get over it’

This sentence makes me think about having a cold or the flu. It can take a little while getting over and you have the blocked nose and sore throat to go with it. This is unpleasant. Unfortunately a mental illness doesn’t go away. You can’t just ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. No amount of Lemsip will help anxiety or depression.

Same goes for medication. Medication can really help with the physical symptoms of anxiety or other mental illness. But you don’t get over it the minute you start treatment.

Gosh don’t I wish I could just get over this anxiety! If I could change one thing about myself, it would be to get rid of it. I wish it would crawl away into a hole and never come back. I’m sure a lot of others feel the same way.

Hopefully that statement makes you think a little bit.

You can just sleep it off

I LOVE sleep! If my anxiety could be cured by sleep I’d be the first person to volunteer. The problem with depression or anxiety is that it alters your sleeping patterns.

I’m a morning person. But my anxiety and my brain likes to keep me up at night. Once I do eventually get to sleep, it’ll be hours later. I’ll be knackered and will still have stuff on my mind when I wake up. It’s actually a vicious circle, one which is really hard to get out of.

The problem is, anxiety or depression isn’t solved by sleep alone. It’s a long journey and a slow process. Sleep makes it feel instant fix but getting better is far from it.

It’s not always because of a rough childhood

I feel like this is a big one. We’ve all had problems and issues. A lot of these come from when we are younger. But that doesn’t go to say that this is the same for everyone.

The person we are today has occurred from learning and growing as we get older. This is a good thing and definitely shouldn’t be used in such a negative way.

We make mistakes. We make bad choices in life. We also make good ones. Therefore our childhood is not always the reason for our mental health issue.

The myths and facts on anxiety and mental health


Now I’m not going to overload you with facts and figures on this one. The things listed below are my own opinion and bits I’ve learnt along the way.

It is a physical condition

I know this through past experience! Panic attacks, depression and anxiety all produce physical symptoms as mentioned above.

How do I know this? My body feels like it weighs a tonne. My legs are wobbly and my palms are sweaty. I can’t ignore these feelings. I’m sure there is plenty of documentation showing this too.

So the next time you are around someone suffering from a panic attack, or are feeling particularly anxious, try to help them. I bet they won’t want you to help, but definitely offer! The thing is, these feelings are hard to ignore when they come from your brain.

The person going through this only wishes they would stop.

Some of us are born with lower serotonin levels

So serotonin is what puts us in a good mood. It’s what controls a lot of bodily functions. It helps us relax and feel generally happy.

Those with less of this chemical are naturally more likely to suffer from OCD, anxiety and depression. This is unfortunate, but true.

It can take weeks, months and years to be diagnosed

Being diagnosed can be and is a slow process. Knowing what is happening when you find yourself in a situation like this is hard. There are a number of thoughts going through your head. One of these being that you are fine.

Admit it. You are stubborn. I know i am. This made it hard for me to go to the doctors.I know i thought it was being silly most of the time. This went on for quite a number of years.

Knowing the right time to go to the doctors is important. You have to be ready. There is fear of the unknown to deal with.

The same goes for finding the right treatment

Finding the right treatment means trying out a number of different ways. You have the natural way (exercise, good health and good diet), or medication. You’ve also got talking therapy and behavioural therapy, like CBT.

Imagine not really knowing what’s wrong with you. Imagine having to put your treatment into someone else’s hands. It’s a scary thought. I know it was for me anyway. Finding the treatment that is going to work for you also takes time.

It is an invisible illness

An invisible illness is exactly what it says on the tin. I feel like this saying is quite a new one. I’ve certainly only discovered it recently. It is generally used when describing chronic illnesses which impair daily activities. But i feel like anxiety and depression come under this.

That goes without saying for other mental illnesses as they can really hamper efforts to lead normal lives. You really couldn’t tell someone walking next to you whether they had an invisible illness or not.

That certainly doesn’t make it any less real.

It does not discriminate

The problem with society today is that there’s a lot of discrimination. Whether it be race, hair colour, eye colour, size, etc. we seem to care a lot. But a mental illness doesn’t care who you are. It’s like a child. Young children don’t see past the person. Nor does anxiety and nor does depression.

See, we are all capable of developing OCD. Bipolar Disorder can be developed later on in life. As long as you have a brain, that’s all that matters! it’s as simple as that.

There are some positive impacts to anxiety!

i am very passionate about mental health and getting rid of that ridiculous stigma attached to it. But have you ever thought about what positive impacts you can have by suffering from anxiety? I wrote a post all about it here.

Food for thought

If you suffer from a mental health condition, I hope this has made you think a little. If you don’t suffer from a mental health condition, I hope this has made you think even more.

There is more to it than just suffering from anxiety or depression. or OCD and any other mental illness. There are studies which confirm all of the above.

Remember that your choice is your choice. You can chose to believe all or nothing of this. But take time time think about everything I’ve said. Whether you suffer or not. 1 in three people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives. This could be you one day.

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Fascinating Fancies #8

Well I seem to be a bit useless when it comes to these Fascinating Fancies!

My problem is that I have so much stuff to share that I’m neglecting the thing that started from the beginning.

This has to stop. Please virtually slap me so I can get my arse in gear.

Anyway! That’s done now. I thought I’d share with you some of the great things I’ve discovered over the last month.

Some may or may not be any use to you, but here you go!

The best picks from the internet. mental health, blogging, well being, the fascinating

Mind – Mental Health charity. This is a biggie right here. How could I not tell you about Mind and write about mental health? It’s got some really useful stuff on mental health. There’s also a section on how to get involved if you wanted to do this.

My recent Huffington Post about the stigma attached to mental health. I decided to email the owner Arianna directly about this. Luckily I heard back within a day! I can smell a blog post coming on. Anyway. Do take a look. It’s got a bit of comedy in there too.

Our Song by Dani Atkins. This is a book. Nothing to do with mental health I’m afraid! But I’ve just started reading it and oh my god. I have been on the end of my seat since the beginning. Go check it out!

Left Lion. For those local Nottingham-ers out there this is for you. Although this is bar far NOT a recent discovery but a great discovery all the same. If you’re looking for local talent, this is for you. I’m talking events, ads, music, stuff like that. Go go!

Wowcher. I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of this before. But it’s honestly great, even for holidays! I’m always on it, spending the money that I don’t have. Haha.

No More Panic Forum. Forums are a geat way for other sufferers to connect with each other. Also, you can stay anonymous as well. So there’s no pressure in signing up or giving any details out. Writing always helps me with my feelings so why not take a look?

Some other relates articles you might find interesting:

Anxiety has helped me realise my dreams and so can you. free printable!

Why Anxiety Made Me Realise My Dreams and So Can You + Free Printable! Turn your anxiety around and use it as your weapon.

Lets beat anxiety. Writing is a aproven and the best technique to help with mental illness. This is a full guide on how and why to do it.

The Ultimate Resource On Writing to Help Your Anxiety. Writing is a clinically proven method to dealing with your anxiety. It might help you!

Living frugally has many benefits for your anxiety. I'm going to explain why.

Why Living Frugally Benefits Your Anxiety. Who would have thought that living frugally benefits your anxiety? Have a read.

The Hardest Thing You Might Ever Do – Telling Your Family/Friends About Your Mental Health


How do you tell someone that you suffer from a mental illness? It’s probably one of the hardest things when your trying to deal with your diagnosis or symptoms.

What words do you use to explain it to someone who has never been through it themselves? These feelings you are experiencing are probably things you’ve never even come across in life before.

Dealing with a mental health issue personally I believe is much harder than a physical injury. The problem with your brain is that your habits and thoughts are ingrained in your personality.

This is why it makes it such a lonely experience. You might be afraid, worried and confused. But you’ve reached a point now where you are ready to tell your family/friends.

Now I know that culture and family setup might make these things impossible for you. I understand that completely. Unfortunately this might be the reason for you not wanting to say anything.

This isn’t something that I have much experience on unfortunately. See below on joining some groups for support. This might be a good option for you.

So what steps should you take?

How do you tell your family or friends about your mental health? Do you accept it? Use it for courage?

Accepting it yourself

The first step to really being able to talk about your mental health is accepting who you are and why you are.

This is a really important step.

Remember that you are amazing. You might be a worrier, but you are still amazing. Being able to understand how your brain works will allow you to accept it much better than if you are in denial.

Trying to think you are okay is a huge battle you’ll be having with yourself and you will only make yourself worse. Plus, it’s exhausting!

Do you think that someone on the street is going to look at you oddly because you have anxiety? Mental illnesses are called invisible illnesses for a reason. You can’t see it therefore you won’t be judged on the street for it.

By accepting your situation, it will give you confidence to face it in future. It’ll make telling your family and friends much easier.

If anything, they will be thankful you’ve told them and will want to know more. You’ll be educating them at the same time!

Have courage. Talk to your friends and family. Don't be worried or scared

Be ready to talk about it

As I mentioned in the above part, once you’ve gone and done it – be ready for questions. As you probably know, not everyone will have gone through it before. It could be intriguing for them.

So you might be faced with some questions about your situation. Don’t be panicked by this. You’ve got nothing to worry about!

Answer them as best you can. As the good saying goes, “honesty is the best policy”! It really is with mental health.

I get asked questions on a regular basis by my colleagues and family/friends. I have to be ready to answer them. It also ties in with the above really. If you aren’t ready to talk about your mental health yet, you probably aren’t ready for the questions either.

But once you get to that stage where you feel compelled to tell someone, think about what sort of questions they may ask you. Maybe you could write it down in a little notepad?

Or how about doing a bit of research via Google to see what the common questions are from others? To add a nice cheesy line again here, “Knowledge is power”. Knowing as much as you can will allow you to feel better prepared when the time comes.

You’ll feel more confident for this reason and have some good answers to respond back with.

The key here is not to feel defensive. Getting your back up when trying to explain your anxiety or depression is easily done, but not the best idea.

Have courage. Your friends or family might also suffer too. You are brave and amazing.

There are other sufferers just like you – your friends/family being some of them!

You aren’t alone Sometimes the hardest thing is not as scary as it is. How many times can you remember where you feel like you’ve done something wrong, apologised, and told to stop being so silly? I know I’ve been there a bunch of times!

By speaking to your friends and/or family, you never know, it might not be that bad. Your family could even surprise you and find your brother or mother might be also suffering themselves.

As the saying goes, “sharing is caring” – it won’t be as bad as you think it is. So why not test the water?

Speak to your doctor about it

You might not think it but doctors are great places to get support. If you’re thinking about telling your friends or family, consult your doctor. You don’t want to cause yourself necessary harm and stress because of it, but it could help you.

They may be able to offer you support groups or social groups which are specifically those suffering from a mental illness.

If you are particularly worried about speaking to your family/friends, why not join a group first? Although the thought of such things might make you worry, they don’t know you. Not like your family do.

Speaking to your doctor is one step on the road to approaching those close to you.

Expect your plan might not work out how you imagined it

You know the feeling. Planning out a situation to the absolute minute detail and it not working out anything like you imagined it.

It’s very easy. Trust me I know! I feel like I say this a lot on the blog. But I’ve been there. Which means these circumstances have all happened to me.

I can work myself up until I’m pretty much having a panic attack when trying to deal with something. Something as little as picking up the phone to call someone.

So remember this when your thinking about telling those close to you. It could be a good thing. They may react positively to your situation. You’ll forget the reasons why you thought it might be so bad at the beginning.

Have courage

You are strong. stronger than you give yourself credit for. Courage is something that seems to elude us in times like these.

But I’m saying this for a reason. If you are ready, then do it. Consider my points, but also that sometimes doing it is easier than thinking about it.

Have courage and trust your own thoughts. There must be a reason why you are thinking about telling them.

Hold that thought in your head. You can do it!

How to talk about your mental health issue. Have the courage. Remember that it doesn't define you

Remember it doesn’t define you

The last point I’ll make on this is that although you may suffer from anxiety, depression or another mental health issue, it doesn’t make you who you are. You aren’t just a sufferer. You are you.

You are free to be who you want to be.

Plus, you don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to. I’m only writing this for those who are considering it. A bit of food for thought. Gosh. Sorry for all of the cliche lines on this one!

Hopefully you’ve found this useful! Have you told your friends or family yet? Do you want to? Share your thoughts.

How do you tell your family or friends that you suffer from a mental health issue? Anxiety or depression, have courage,

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This Lil Mind of Mine – A Series on Mental Health – Anonymous

Let's discuss mental health. the best advice from sufferers themselves.

Good morning! This is another of my mental health series which is in a different format today. This is anonymous and the only editing I’ve done is to split it up a little. It’s full of emotion and I can relate to a lot of this. Have a read.

Anxiety and Me

I don’t share as much as I should. When I’m deep in a blip, I’m incapable of voicing my feelings, let alone making any sense and when I’m well. I don’t really want to think about it. My anxiety is a bi product of a much deeper mental instability. I’m not mocking those who only suffer from it. Far from it.

I have much to learn and get so much from people that suffer from it as it helps me with coping strategies to allow me to delve deeper into my broken bits and as the phrase goes. Every little thing helps.

I love the honesty of people that can voice how their anxiety makes them feel. I’m scared of opening up. It’s like being out in public naked to me. I would love to be more of an advocate and shout it from the roof tops but the old stigma starts screaming at me louder and louder. What if no one likes me? What if my friends never speak to me again? What if work find out? Will it stop me from being a parent? Will I lose my home?

All these questions swirl around my head on a daily and hourly basis. I hide. Yes, I work, but I’m happiest at home. With the curtains shut and the doors locked. I can’t cope with relationships. These bring more questions. Am I worth them? Will they like me? Why would they want someone so broken? I’m unattractive.

The concept of internet dating petrifies me. That whole judging with a swipe – Not for me. I’m not brave enough to face these emotions so I hide away. The fear of failure is too big for me to face and has been for ten years now.

I have let anxiety and the opinion of others take control of my life and I’m well at the moment so I’m trying to face my fears. It’s easy to say ‘Don’t let it take control of you,’ Stopping it from doing it is another matter.

If I can share anything. My tips would be. Open the mail. Its never as scary as you think and better dealt with quickly rather than hiding it away for months. Take things in little chunks. The big picture is too big. Look at it in little pieces and list things.

Ticking things off one bit at a time makes you feel like you have achieved and suddenly you have conquered the big picture without even trying. Make sure you set a reward for the end. Even if it’s. ‘If I wake up and remove myself from under the duvet. I will be able to have a nice cup of tea and hot buttered toast.’

Please feel free to comment. Please bear in mind this is of a personal nature.