Editor’s note: Dandelions and Bad Hair Days has brought me into contact with some really interesting and honest writers and Melanie is definitely one of them. She is a freelance writer, mother and is currently working on her first novel. Recently having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, she embarked on a mission of self-help, to assist alongside her medication and talking therapies. Her guest post today details some of the methods used by her and others to ease their symptoms during what can be a difficult time of year for many. Do take a look at her own blog over at Molly Doubly-Barrely.
Self Therapies – A holistic approach to mental illness
A commonly uttered phrase I have been hearing of late is ‘they won’t help you unless you help yourself.’ Of course, my perpetual need to over analyse what people say took over and I have since become fanatical about self management strategies, Googling and reading until my brain aches with information overload. After waiting two weeks for a referral to the Wellbeing team, I had worked myself into a state, my medication had reduced in its effectiveness and I was generally making a hash of life. Then my appointment was cancelled due to staff shortages. Luckily, I had already read up on the experiences of others and I now realise I am not alone in searching desperately for ways to help myself, having been – temporarily – let down by the professionals. Continue reading
Posted in Dandelions and Bad Hair Days, Mental health, Writing
Tagged anxiety, bipolar, blogging, creativity, depression, health, mental health, Mood, personality, self-help, women's issues, writing
As some of my regular readers may be aware, I was commissioned earlier this year, by the new social history imprint of Pen and Sword Books, to write a book about the impact of the first world war on the nation’s mental well-being. Shell Shocked Britain (a working title) is due to be published in 2014, marking the centenary of the beginning of WW1. I am honoured to be part of this new ‘stable’ and have been determined to do the very best job possible.
So I have been researching, pulling together reading lists and then actually getting down to some reading and yes, even writing. The book is framed by the story of my Great Uncle Alf Hardiman, who slit his ex-girlfriend’s throat and then turned the razor on himself in 1922. (I tell the story on this blog in An Unsound Mind) At the inquest it was heard that he had been involved in an air raid on London and had spent a year in hospital, never fully recovering. Continue reading
Posted in Book, Family History, History, London, Writing
Tagged Books, Family History, First Blitz, First World War, Great War, Historic Newspapers, London, reading, research, Shell Shocked Britain, WW1, Zeppelin raids
Even as we enter the ‘festive season’, and many of us are thinking about how best we can bring a smile to the faces of friends and family in the coming days, we have, in the space of one weekend, been faced with unimaginable horrors. The tragedy that has unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut – the mayhem, grief and loss, the courage – written by the actions of one disturbed young man with access to a family arsenal of weapons, has caused many of us to hug those we love just a little tighter in the last 72 hours.
This week at our ‘Reading Still Matters’ group, Chris Banks (herself a talented poet), suggested we read the poem ‘Kindness’ by Naomi Shihab Nye. It was her Christmas gift to us and I love it. Inspired by events happening when Naomi and her husband were on honeymoon in Colombia – they were robbed of everything they possessed on a bus in the middle of the night; a fellow passenger killed and left by the side of the road – it is a poem about loss and grief; desolate, but with a hopeful ending. Continue reading
Posted in Christmas, Poetry, Random musings on family life, love the universe and everything, Writing
Tagged Connecticut, Kindness, Naomi Shihab Nye, Newtown, Poetry, shootings, writing
Perhaps my title exaggerates; perhaps it doesn’t. All I know is that whether you worry at every possible sign of illness and go to the doctors, or worry about illness and avoid the medical profession until a crisis occurs, these are not issues to be sneered at.
‘Hypochondriacs’ are much maligned. In books, on tv and in the media anyone who seems to seat themselves in the doctor’s waiting room at every opportunity is a figure of fun or of derision. Admittedly, there are some who seem to enjoy a good old natter about their ailments and for whom a neighbour or friend’s misfortune is the subject of much hushed talk and gossip. But this is not about those people. This is about people – and I count myself one of them – for whom health anxiety is a horribly debilitating, restrictive and obsessive condition.
Often considered to be on the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum, many of those affected by health anxiety have ‘an obsessional preoccupation with the idea or the thought that they are currently (or will be) experiencing a physical illness.’ (Anxiety UK). The most common health anxieties tend to centre on conditions such as cancer,but the anxiety or phobia may fixate on any type of illness. Continue reading
Posted in Breast cancer, Charities, Dandelions and Bad Hair Days, Mental health, Writing
Tagged acute anxiety, anxiety, anxiety symptoms, breast cancer, depression, health anxiety, hypochondria, mental health, Mood, obsessive compulsive disorder, women's issues, writing
DABHD on the front table in Brendon Books, Taunton.
Dandelions and Bad Hair Days: Untangling lives affected by depression and anxiety was published on 10th October 2012. Regular readers of my blog will know that many of the pieces in that book started life as guest posts on the ‘mental health monthly’ guest slot here on No Wriggling and I am proud to say that we are now well into our second print run and selling well on Amazon, via the publisher’s website and on the book’s own site at www.dandelionsandbadhairdays.wordpress.com.
In a radio interview I did for BBC Somerset I was asked whether I was planning a second volume. My answer – other than ‘let us sell lots of the first first!’ was ‘perhaps’. I am of course reliant on the wonderful people who are willing to put their mental health stories ‘out there’ and I have been commissioned to write a social history book on mental health after the First World War, which must take precedence. However, in the meantime I thought it would be wonderful to continue to highlight all the stories that are already on the net and the websites and blogs that offer the opportunity for people to share experiences and become part of something positive, as one reviewer of DABHD has said about the effect the book had on them:
“It makes me think about it like people from lost tribes having found each other, or having found the thread that connects them”…..
So here is a great piece written by Trish Hurtubise, the Founder and Editor of Mental Health Talk, a website that she describes as ‘an eclectic collection of stories and wisdom from people who experience mental health issues’. I came across it quite by chance via Twitter and as someone who experiences depression and crippling anxiety I felt really supported by Trish’s approach to publishing the words of people for whom getting their voice heard is one step towards recovery. I am thrilled that she has agreed to tell her story for No Wriggling. Continue reading
Posted in Dandelions and Bad Hair Days, Mental health, Writing
Tagged anxiety, blogging, depression, mental health, mental health issues, Mental Health Talk, mental-health, Mood, women's issues, writing
How many people watching or listening to the news coverage of the vote by the General Synod of the Church of England (the Church’s governing body) against the appointment of women bishops actually care? Not many I would guess, and then not for long. The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks the Church has ‘a lot of explaining to do’ to the wider community and that it has ‘lost a measure of credibility’ after the decision and the BBC are rightly making it headline news. But I believe the Church had already neglected the wider population of the country and the argument for disestablishment has been growing. Ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith tweeted that the Church no longer represented the country. How many people thought it did anyway?
But we should care. Not because of reasons of faith – we are a multi-cultural, multi-faith country and we can choose to have any faith or none. But we should care because the Church does still have a huge political influence in this country and across the world, often in countries where women experience far greater inequality than in the UK. This decision signals the long-term and inevitable decline of an established Church which I personally find alienating and dispiriting; but if the vote had gone the other way it might just have become a force for some sort of real change. How can we accept or take seriously the Church’s involvement in discussions at the highest level when it remains exempt from equality legislation? Whilst the House of Lords allows 26 unelected bishops a say in our legislation we have to take this seriously. Continue reading
Posted in Random musings on family life, love the universe and everything, Religion
Tagged Bishops, Christianity, church, Church of England, general synod of the church of england, inequality, religion, sexism, Women bishops, women's issues
Wallander, Sarah Lund, Lisbeth Salander, Harry Hole et al – we are now in thrall to the Scandanavian detective. Introduced to the characters via the wonderful BBC4 I have since escaped into the novels of Henning Mankell, the lead character appearing in my imagination something of an amalgam of the Kurt Wallander as played by Kenneth Brannagh in the British series and Krister Henriksson in the original Swedish. The bleak landscapes, strong lead characters and deft plotting draw one in and the stories rarely offer a neat resolution. Any humour is dark and countered with violence and unimaginable horror.
Recently however I have become a little jaded at this approach, now becoming something of a cliche in a world of crime fiction and television series already riddled with the predictable. I love detective fiction – to read and to watch – but sometimes you need to experience something new. Continue reading