Archive for Don’t Lose Your Grip

Inspirational Song Of The Day

First you hear the melody and your fingers start to tap… Before you know it, your head is nodding in rhythm and you start to smile as the first line of your favorite song is blasting through the speakers!

As you sing along, every word of every line seems to have been written just for you about your life. In that moment you know that you are not alone! Whatever you are going through, someone else has also been there and they survived to sing about it. And so can you…

We had this amazing friend Lacey Crawford who was incredibly talented and loved pouring her heart out in we music and we will always remember her laugh… Sadly she was suffering from depression and her internal loneliness overwhelmed the love surrounding her, which prevented her from seeing her options clearly and in November 2010 she took her own life. We have dedicated the Don’t Lose Your Grip account to reminding everyone (including ourselves) that life is worth living and there is always someone who loves you, you just have to hold on a little longer…

If you ever need to talk, just message us on twitter and will be there in a heartbeat

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Sticks and Stones

Just snap out of it! You lazy so and so! You’re all dangerous! You’re making it all up, just get a grip! <~ These are just a few of the things that the people in our world believe about the mentally ill… This is a stigma! This is hurtful and dangerous. More alarmingly is the number of people who believe it…

We all know the old addage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” But this is sooo NOT true! Words are extremely powerful! Every sylable carries the weight of a thousand thoughts and every letter the judgement of those who do not notice the pain. We really do not give words enough credit. We use thousands of words every day; we express exactly what we intend and we do it so carelessly… Half of the time it’s like our mind has a direct line to our tongue that bypasses all logic or filters or even compassion. Most of the time we can get away with it because calling a pen that won’t write “stupid” doesn’t really matter… slamming a door while muttering hateful things under your breath can go unnoticed but when these words come out without a compasion-check, that’s when everyhing starts falling apart. At first you may not notice… you may not see the dissapointment or fear of judgment on the face of the person whom you’ve just hirt more than any stone ever could. And then again, maybe you do. Maybe you notice their sadness and regret the words that fell out of your mouth but then what? What do you do about it? Pride gets in the way of most apologies. Shame prevents us from acting honourably and admitting to our mistakes outwright. So instead we change the subject saving ourselves from the awkward moment while the other party is left to ponder the words that we just dropped on them; the words we were too afraid to apologize for; the words we can never take back.

But we can always try. Always! It is up to change the weight of these negative words into something more managable… something caring and heartwarming… something we can actually be proud of. You and I have the power to filter our words and change those little voices in our heads into positive ones. To be confident enough in our own abilities to see the best in others and not feel the need to use their weeknesses against them. It is up to us to change the way we perceive those who are different and those who are asking for help. Instead of seeing each other as attention seeking competition, we need to see each other as support in this hectic struggle known as life.

We are the difference…

You Matter

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in all of the mundane things that make up our lives. And somewhere along the way, we start to forget who we are and the value we add to life. You start to loose little pieces of yourself… at first you don’t notice but one day you’re staring at your computer and you ask yourself “What’s the point?”

When you suffer from depression, this question is one you ask pretty much every day. And finding an answer isn’t always easy. But then again, easy doesn’t make for a very interesting life. So every day I focus on one #ReasonToSmile. just one little thing about the day that is completely me and makes me smile… even just for a while. Whether it’s drinking chai tea out of my favorite mug or playing fetch with my overly ball upsessed dog or watching my favorite 90’s TV shoew re runs… it may not seem like much but when the rest of your day is filled with dispair, that one little moment is everything…

Like all things, if you do them repeatedly they become habit and feel more natural, so eventually these little moments of happiness becomes normal again. These little moments all make up the little peices of you that matter. As long as you keep reminding yourself of what makes you happy – even if it is just for a minute – you will never loose yourself completely.

If any ever tries to convince you that you are not worthy of happiness, know that they are wrong! You matter! Noo one can tell you otherwise, not even that little voice inside of you… We are own biggest critics but we can fight back against the mean things we think about ourselves and change the voices in our heads to make them like us instead (best line ever written in a song paraphrased!) You deserve to be happy!

Don’t Lose Your Grip Zimbabwe

Don’t Lose Your Grip has been around for the last 2 years. For Chrisselle and myself, it was a way of honouring our friends memory and coping with her suicide. Along the way we made some amazing friends and helped a few people open up about their mental health. This has been great but in 2013 we decided that we needed to take it to the next level.

On the UK front Chrisselle has been raising money for local charities with her Cupcake & Tea events in Livingston. This has also been a great place for people to find support in their local community while being able to open up about the mental health issues that are so often swept under the rug. Along with the fundraising teas, she is working on setting up local therapy & support groups and planning a charity benefit later this year. All in all, things are moving forward quite swimmingly.

We still have our weekly #TopicsToDiscuss about mental health on Monday’s and eating disorders on Tuesdays to raise awareness and remind people that it is ok not to be ok… Opening up about these serious issues are key in the fight against judgment and stigmas. And of course we still have our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competitions because the way we see it, whatever you’re going through, someone else has also been there… and they probably wrote a song about it. Music can get through to us when ordinary words seem futile. Reminding each and every person suffering in silence out there that they are not alone is just one of the benefits of our twitter account.

On the Zimbabwe front things are just getting started… We have set up a Zim twitter account so that we can targert Zim specific stigmas and challenges regarding mental health. Every Thursday at 8pm we’ll be having a stigma-busting discussion on twitter called  #TTDzim (Topics To Discuss Zimbabwe) and hopefully every conversation will bring us one step closer to understanding and a judgement free country. We’re also urging our followers to kick off their tweeting day with a #ReasonToSmile and posting something positive about their day or something they are looking forward to on their page on a daily bases. We are currently in talks with a few professionals to help us set up a support line – someone you can call when you are feeling depressed or worried about a friend or need help getting in touch with a medical professional. Help is available, sometimes t is just hard to find… We want to do everything in our power to make support more accessible. And once we have our network of professionals set up, we want to set up a support group in every town.

No one should be judged for the way they feel and everyone should have the oppertunity to get help. Our world isn’t perfect and there is still a long way to go before we reach our Utophia but that doesn’t mean we should give up or stop trying to get there. The power is in our hands and we’re tired of waiting for someone else to be the change that we can be but we can’t do it alone, so join us on twitter or like us on facebook and let’s save some lives one conversation at a time…

Autism Awareness

April is Autism awareness month. Usually I see these kinds of awareness campaigns as a little bit of fun for a good cause and hopefully somewhere along the line one or two people will be reached and that would be a successful campaign. This time around I pushed for a fairly simple project at work supporting the global call to ‘Go Blue for Autism’.

A simple process where all of our staff wear blue every Friday this month and we hand out flyers (which I also translated into Shona with some interesting results) and we educated our staff. I had a lot of conversations with idividual staff members about what exactly Autism is and what they can do to help. I was really amazed by how little all of them knew!! Sometimes I take my experience and education for granted.

So 13days into Autism Awareness month and it’s amazing how involved all of them are. They want to know more and they want to share it with their friends and families and they actually love being more informed. The biggest thing with Autism in Africa (and most mental health issues) is that no one talks about it. No one really seem to know much about it and more often than not, the person suffering is written off by their families and locked away; kept as a prisoner in their own home, simply because no one knows how to ‘handle them’. No has bothered to educate future parents on the very real possibility that their child will not be like every other child… that their child might be different. And by different I do not just mean have Autism or any other mental illness, I also mean that their boy mightlike playing withdolls and that their daughter might grow up not wanting to marry a guy… There is still a lot of forced rules placed on everyone and if your child or your family do not fit this mold perfectly, you must be ashamed? What kind of a world do we live in where a father might hate his own daughter for being gay or a mother writing off her baby because he does not respond like other kids? An uneducated one!

Awareness campaigns are so common right now that it’s easy to start thinking that they are just a way to kill time or make yourself seem more worldly but we forget that these campaigns exist not for those of us who are aware but for those who have never been informed. For all of those mothers who spent days crying because they could not bond with their child. For those kids who were abandoned because no one saw the potential behind their disorder. For everyone who has been made to feel worthless simply because they were not like everyone else.

So do yourself a favour and get involved! Talk about it! Share your experiences and be not afraid to teach others what you have learned…

PS: if you live in Southern Africa join us on twitter at DLYGzimbabwe where we are starting a campaign to talk about mental health instead of just allowing each other to suffer in silence

Paralyzed by fear

Finding fear in every thought… being worried about every catastrophe and concerned about every outcome… worrying about things that others hardly notice… It’s a little something known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

For the last 2 days I have been stressed out over asking my friend for a phone number of one of the guys who work for him. I just had to ask him one simple question that logically he would have no reason to say ‘no’ to so that I can call the number and ask his worker a question…. Sounds simple enough, right? But I couldn’t bring myself to do it! It it wasn’t for the fact that the guy happened to drive into our yard this morning, I’d probably still be experiencing shortness of breath and would have been able to look forward to another sleepless night…

So what is GAD? Well these guys can put it a lot better (or at least in a lot more words) than I can NIMH and my favorite Help Guide and just for good measure Wikipedia… You can also checkout what our followers thought about it on twitter via #TopicsToDiscuss

I’d rather remind you that as much as anxiety sucks and as much as the fear torments us, we are not alone… You are not the only one! And as long as we have the courage to talk about it, someone will be willing to listen. As long as we remember to fight through the fear and find the calm, there will be support and understanding.

You can set up your own ‘calm plan’ Something that lists all of the things you like to do and all of the things that remove the fear from your thoughts. Make sure this plan is accessible to you at all times because sometimes the fear and anxiety is so great that we do not even realize we are in a state of panic until it paralyzes us. Every step you take and every tip you try is one more weapon you have against your Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

So feel free to share your tips and even the things that did not work for you with us in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can also follow us on twitter and send us a direct message Who knows, maybe we can help each other…

 

Anxious on a whole new level

 What is Anxiety? Well, it’s when your heart pounds before a difficult exam or competitive match. That moment before a date when you have butterflies in your stomach. When you get nervous about stepping into your bosses office or you are concerned about family issues. These are all natural reactions… But when they reach a whole new level and worries, fears, or anxiety attacks seem overwhelming and are preventing you from living your life the way you’d like to, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Luckily there are ways you can ease the anxiety and control the attacks. You have the power to take back control of your life!

Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder, they can look very different from person to person. Like with most other Mental Illnesses. One individual may suffer from intense anxiety attacks that strike without warning, while another gets panicky at the thought of mingling at a party. Someone else may struggle with a disabling fear of driving, or uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. Yet another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything.

Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened…

So tonight we asked our followers a little bit about Anxiety and the 6 types of Anxiety Disorders currently defined. First we started by asking them what Anxiety feels like to them? Which anxious moments have they faced?

  • A burglary
  • Facing the parents
  • Exams
  • Job Interview
  • High School graduation
  • Everything

We’ve all experienced most of these feelings… fortunately for most of us, these feelings pass relatively quickly. For someone suffering from anxiety, it generally lasts much longer – sometimes even after the person has left the situation that sparked the panic. So we asked our followers what they do in these situations to calm their nerves and breathe a little easier.

  • Excercise
  • Call a friend
  • Suck on a sweet
  • Coloring books
  • Think positive thoughts
  • Write
  • Listen to music
  • Breathe

These are all great self-help tips that can become life changing habits. In order to take back control of your life and actually enjoy it rather than live in fear of it, sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone and face the source. Yes, I know… it’s not easy! But it is worth it! Imagine being able to do all of the things you once loved to do and spend time with those you love without constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop… this is possible. Most anxiety disorders are extremely susceptible to treatment.

In the next couple of #TopicsToDiscuss we will be taking a deeper look into the different Anxiety Disorders, namely:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder (Anxiety Attacks)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Phobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

And you are all invited to join us on twitter and share your views on all of these subjects.

Please also remember that  many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse (and vice versa), it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. If you want to talk, we’re here for you and you can also check out this site to get a bit more info and support Anxiety Help Guide

Music Saves Lives

If you follow our twitter feed on a daily bases you will be aware of our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competitions. A simple concept where our followers and even we at times get to share the songs that have helped us through tough times and made that day just a little more bearable… Sometimes this involves lengthy discussions about artists and their writing styles or just the lyrics we love or the music video that showcases it all… And it’s not really about the winner; it’s about the power of music.

 

So tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss is about the power of music. I’m sure all of you have heard at least one person close to you say “If it wasn’t for music I would not be here” or the more poignant “Music has saved my life”. And you probably rolled your eyes and thought ‘drama queen’…. but from personal experience I can completely relate to those music lovers. When life gets you down and it feels like no one around you understands and you are completely alone, that is when music steps in and every song seems to be about you… every lyric just makes sense and every note gives your body permission to breathe… music can save lives as long as we give it permission to.

 

Have you ever experienced a moment where words from friends and family were not enough but music made sense? That’s exactly what we asked our followers and they recalled a lot of these moments… Moments when they couldn’t see the light but music helped them through it. For a list of amazing songs that inspire our followers, checkout the #InspirationalSongOfTheDay link or #20DaysOfRae

 

If you have been part of our #DLYGfamily from the beginning you’ll know that Lacey had an amazing voice… and that we loved her. Music is what brought me and Chrisselle to twitter in the first place and that is also how we met Lacey… So music has always had a very big role to play within Don’t Lose Your Grip. When Lacey took her own life it was hard on those of us left behind but music helped us cope… talking about it has helped us cope… being able to help others share has helped us cope… For us music is more than just a few notes: it is a life saving tool that can speak louder than words and get through to us when no one else can.

 

Basically, music has a brilliant way of changing our moods and allowing us to reclaim the version of ourselves that the world tries so hard to destroy. If you want to share your favorite music with us or your stories or recovery or just want to talk, we would love to hear from you! PS this discussion was inspired by one of our amazing followers @whoisalicia_ and her post Everything’s Fine

Depression VS Bipolar

Mental health is confusing. Even those of us living it have trouble understanding it, so how can we expect others to understand it? Well, be listening to us when we talk about it…

Tonight we tackled one of the confusing things about Bipolar… how does it differ from depression?

We started by asking our followers how they would define depression?              

  • ·         like a permanent grey cloud over your head, regardless of the actual weather (weather = your situation)
  • ·         always sad, feeling really low and lacking self confidence, and getting more tired than normal
  • ·         when you want to be alone, but be alone with someone
  • ·         like a slow wave of dark, aching nausea
  • ·         when everyday noise is too much, but silence is unbearable
  • ·         black cloud that follows you everywhere – all the time
  • ·         a medical condition in which one experiences low moods for a prolonged period of time or in other words, hell on earth
  • ·         my life

All very vivid explanations of this frustrating disorder… and this is how the medical professionals define it. Official Definition:

Clinical (or major) depression is a serious illness that affects every aspect of an individual’s life, including their personal and family relationships, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. The symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Decreased activity and energy
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Increased feelings of worry and anxiety
  • Less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of activities normally enjoyed
  • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Change in appetite (either eating more or eating less)
  • Change in sleep patterns (either sleeping more or sleeping less)

 

A lot less expressive and slightly vague… but then we asked them how they would define Bipolar.

  • ·         half the time sad and down and tired and then the other half happy and impulsive and never sleeping
  • ·         a whirlwind of highs brought down by crippling lows. highs can also be fuelled by irritability & anxiety
  • ·         lack of sleep, lack of inhibition, lack of reason and too much emotion.

Official definition:

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in moods that alternate between “highs” (or mania) and “lows” (or depression). These manic and depressive periods vary from person to person and can last from just a few hours or days to several weeks or even months. Sometimes these periods of intense emotions are so brief and so far between that many people may not be aware that they have bipolar disorder. Sometimes these cycles are so strong and close together that it is very difficult to maintain a normal life and have normal relationships.

Bipolar depression shares many of the same symptoms of regular depression. Manic episodes are often harder to identify because many people don’t understand what the symptoms of mania are. If you experience episodes of depression followed by the following symptoms of mania, you may have bipolar disorder.

  • An extremely elated, happy mood or an extremely irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
  • Ambitious, often grandiose plans
  • Risk taking
  • Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse
  • Decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue

 

So what’s the difference between Depression and Bipolar? This is what our followers came up with:

  • ·         I guess in bipolar disease u feel down and happy both at diff times (changes in emotions) but in depression mostly low
  • ·         I only have experience with depression, but I’m guessing the fact that you don’t get the “highs” with depression
  • ·         bipolar people are depressed for a shorter time and then go straight to manic and depressed people just stay depressed
  • ·         Manic Depression can mean either overly happy, overly sad or ‘normal’ where depression is just very sad most of the time

Official answer:

Bipolar disorder and depression are very similar illnesses with one major difference: People with bipolar disorder switch between episodes of depression and episodes of mania. Because these two illnesses are so similar, some people who are diagnosed as having depression may actually have bipolar disorder. One reason for this misdiagnosis is that people with bipolar disorder often only seek treatment during a depressive episode. They may also be unaware that when they’re not feeling depressed, they may actually be experiencing an episode of mania.

These two are so close and yet for the people living with these disorders, they are worlds apart. The wrong diagnosis can mean that it will take you longer to find a treatment plan that works for you but ultimately you will still get there. The most important things to remember with a diagnosis are that it is just the starting point and your input will determine how accurate your treatment is. Your doctor can not treat you for something if he does not have all of the facts and if you do not let him in on all of the facts, he will never know.

We also asked them how their diagnosis changed their lives.

  • I felt like it wasn’t all just in my head, I wasn’t making it up
  • it helped my younger siblings understand my mood swings and the meds have really helped
  • Diagnosis helps you to understand that what is happening to you is real

For most people being diagnosed was a positive… occasionally there are people who try to use your diagnosis against you and that is one of the reasons we need to stand together and talk openly about these issues. When we stand together and fight for equality while standing up for each other, only good things can come from it.

We also asked what they wish people could understand about these disorders. Take Note World

  • it’s an everyday struggle and that we have no control over it
  • forever hoping someone actually notices and cares to get me help.
  • it doesn’t make me a freak; it just means my mood swings are a little strange.

And what would you say to someone who is wondering if they have bipolar or depression?

  • Find a doctor with expertise
  • see your doctor. As terrifying as it is, it’s the only way you’ll know for sure

We finished tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss by asking our followers if there was something they wish they had known back when they were first diagnosed. It mainly came down to not fighting it. Not trying to deny it or run from it but rather facing the diagnoses and accepting the help being offered to you. Whatever your diagnoses, you need to remember that it is only a small part of who you are and not all that you are. We also discussed that not every therapeutic tool or recovery technique or medical remedy will work for everyone. Every person is different and their treatment should be too, it’s up to you and your doctor to figure out what works best for you. Like Edison said: I have not failed, I have just found a 1000 ways for it not to work.

Find a treatment that works for you and stick with it. You are not alone and we are all here to support you through your recovery.

Sleep Is Overrated

“Sleep is overrated” “Efficiency is a word insomniacs use to defend their caffeine addiction” “Sleeping more than 4 hours a night is pointless” All of these phrases have been used about by me… but secretly I would love to be able to sleep for 8 hours straight. I would love to wake up feeling refreshed rather than with a headache. I would like to actively go to bed every night and just sleep rather than pass out from exhaustion. I would love for my eyes to not burn from pure fatigue. I would love to not fall under the insomniac umbrella. But that’s just not meant to be…

Tonight in our #TopicsToDiscuss we asked our followers how they would identify insomnia and where they think it comes from. They pretty much said what the NHS said too

Insomnia is a side effect of many things. Stress. Depression. Bad eating habits. But what side effects result from your insomnia?

  • I struggle to remember simple things sometimes
  • a huge one is the paranoia
  • finding it hard to focus
  • I get really irritable and withdrawn
  • also feel thirsty more and snack on biscuits and other junk food.
  • some people that live with this disorder see things as if they are happening in slow motion, wherein moving objects seem to blend together

There are many levels of insomnia and this is also what makes it so tricky to diagnose. Insomnia is both a symptom and a side effect and that confuses things a bit, especially when you are trying to figure out how to treat it. We asked our followers the following two questions:

What do you do to trick your body into sleeping when you simply can’t stand to be awake any longer? And what has helped you retrain your brain and allow yourself to get some sleep?

  • have a bath in lavender – calming affects of certain smells can help release the tension that is keeping you awake
  • hot milk – it may seem old fashioned but the lacto has a soothing effect on your body that allows it be calm and sleep more peacefully. Plus it is associated with bed time so psychologically there is that advantage too
  • healthy eating is very affective – sometimes just eating less ‘heavy’ meals at night will make a difference. If your body does not have to digest food, it means that it can shut down and relax and not mess with your subconscious throughout the night either
  • caffeine a no-no – if you have a problem with sleeping obviously drinking coffee right before bedtime is not a good idea. A cup of tea or horlics is a better option or simply just a glass of warm milk. But just be careful not to force your body into a detox if you are slightly addicted to caffeine as this could be counterproductive. And sometimes depriving yourself of sleep during the day can help you regain control of your body clock, so coffee is not 100% bad… it’s just something you need to be aware of. There is also a chicken and egg conversation about which one came first: my caffeine addiction or my insomnia?
  • Senses – what you smell and hear makes a difference. The atmosphere that you require to get a good night’s sleep is very important. Try to eliminate all of the things that distract you in your room. Even having too many pillows on the bed or light shining in through the window can affect your sleep. Changing to darker curtains may help.
  • Noise and sounds can also interrupt your sleeping pattern – some people prefer to drown out the sounds with music while others prefer earplugs to remove all sounds completely. You need to try it out in order to determine which one will work for you.
  • Exercise – can be a good way to get rid of all of the extra energy you have and allow you to relax and get a good night’s sleep
  • Pen to paper – writing down all of the thoughts in your head when you want to go to sleep is also a useful tool. If you allow yourself to write these thoughts or concerns down then it gives your mind permission to let go of the thoughts and not fear losing them overnight by allowing you to sleep.
  • baby concept – same routine every night, brush your teeth, comb your hair, listen to the same music or watch the same movie. Like a baby, your body will get use to the routine and realize that you want it to go to sleep. Sometimes it’s like your brain is afraid of missing something so it wants to be awake all the time and if you teach it what to expect and what will happen next, it will realize that there is nothing to be missed by allowing you to sleep

In the medical profession they also use these 2 techniques

  • paradoxical intention – you try to stay awake and avoid any intention of falling asleep; it’s only used if you have trouble getting to sleep, but not maintaining sleep
  • biofeedback – sensors connected to a machine are placed on your body to measure your body’s responses, such as muscle tension and heart rate; the machine produces pictures or sounds to help you control your breathing and body responses

All of these techniques worked for someone… and it most likely failed for someone else, so try them out and let us know how they work for you. There are always more options and new things to try, as long as you are willing to keep looking for that solution, we will be here to help you too.You should consider visiting your GP if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep or to stay asleep and it’s affecting your daily life. Do not wait until you cannot stand it anymore. You have the power to reclaim your bed as a place of comfort.

Leave your comments about tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss or tweet us @dontloseurgrip you can even suggest a topic for our discussion next week.

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