Posts Tagged ‘Self Injury’

Be the change

It’s been a while since I’ve dedicated a post to Don’t Lose Your Grip (the charity my friend Chrisselle started) so I thought I’d give you guys an update.

Firstly, our website is currently experiencing some domain issues and therefor most people can’t access it but we’re working on it and will let you know when http://dontloseyourgrip/chrisselle.com is back in action.

But more importantly, we’re all doing really well and happy with the direction that Don’t Lose Your Grip is taking. But before I talk about the future dreams we have for DLYG, let me fill those of you in who haven’t heard of Don’t Lose Your Grip yet.

Basically a year and a half ago one of our close friends Lacey Crawford took her own life. Now I can sit here and list all of the reasons that lead to that moment that she felt so hopeless that she committed suicide but that’s not going to bring her back. So instead my dear friend Chrisselle Mowatt started this organization where we are trying to change the stigmas that promotes judgment. Every Monday at 8pm UK time we are using Twitter as a medium to discuss everything about self injury (aka cutting aka selfharm). On Tuesdays at 8pm we shift the topic to Eating Disorders including EDNOS and every Wednesday at 8pm it’s Mental Illness. Because eating disorders can be considered as a form of self injury and has mental health implications; because self injury is considered by some as a symptom of mental illness and because mental illness can include insomnia or depression which generally leads to a loss in apetite… well you get the point, it’s all very closely linked and some have even grouped it under mental wellbeing or mental health and for this reason we also have a combined #TopicsToDiscuss on twitter every Sunday starting at 12:00.

We ask the questions everyone else tip toes around; our amazing followers share their own real experiences and fears and the hope they have built up during their recovery. Basically we’re an over tweeting gigantic support group. And everyone is welcome as long as they agree not to judge… Trust me, we’re really good at standing together so play nice.

It can get pretty serious sometimes and that’s one of the reasons we also open up our direct message door to all of our followers. Sometimes it’s too hard to talk to the whole world and you just need 1 person to listen. There are so many people out there scared to get help; being turned away because they don’t fit the perfect criteria yet… no one sees that asking for help is not the first thought on our minds, it’s generally somewhere in the middle, somewhere after we have tried to convince ourselves that it’s not happening to us; that we spend years trying to deny the fact that we are in trouble before we build up the courage to ask for help… To be turned down at that point can be devastating! But life has evolved and we have this amazing new tool called ‘social networking’ and it’s about time we step up and use it for more than gossip or discussion about Justin Bieber’s hair…

You can’t be serious all the time though, I mean the world is depressing enough we need to find a way to focus on the positive. That is one of the reasons we do an #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competition every Sunday – Thursday where our followers nominate the songs that inspire them during the dark moments and the 5 finalists that they voted for goes onto a poll on our FaceBook page. Plus, music can help us express what we are feeling before we even know what exactly it is we are feeling. Music can bring a variety of people together like no other medium. Whatever you are going through: someone else has also been there and they probably wrote a song about it.

Seeing so many people connect to a song is the best way for us to prove that everyone out there suffering in silence are not alone. You are not alone! We have been there and it does get better…

We hope that we can use music one day to help raise money for charities dedicated to helping EVERYONE. We hope that one day we won’t need to schedule a conversation to allow people to discuss these very important issues with those around them. We hope that those who have received help will pass it on and support others who also need it. Basically, we still have faith in humanity and are tired of waiting for the world to change. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

If you have ever suffered from an Eating Disorder or even so much as considered self harm or if a simple thing like getting out of bed in the morning feels like the hardest thing in the entire world to accomplish then you are very welcome to join our #DLYGfamily. If you’ve never personally experienced it but you’ve seen the signs in those you love, join our cause and show everyone suffering that you care and that you are aware. If all of this just seems too foreign or out of your comfort zone, then please join us and allow us to help you understand that these things do not define us, they are just a little part of us.

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Don’t Lose Your Grip Zimbabwe

Those of you who are crazy enough to read my blog on a regular basis will know that I moved to Zimbabwe this year because I’ve loved the amazing culture of hope since I was 12 years old. You’ll also be aware of Don’t Lose Your Grip and our friend Lacey Crawford.

For those of you who might have missed it: Don’t Lose Your Grip is a charity concert and fashion show aimed at raising money [along with much needed awareness] for eating disorders, self injury (aka cutting aka self harm) and mental health issues such as depression. We’re relying on Musicians to volunteer their music for a good cause and to help us show that charity really doesn’t have to be boring. Our models are ALL normal people who want to help us promote positive body image or simply those who are recovering from / trying to live with an eating disorder. DLYG is aimed at ending the judgement and rebuilding self confidence.

We live in a tough world where you are criticized for believing in yourself and told you are a failure because your hair is the wrong colour or your figure doesn’t resemble Barbie or whatever the latest super model’s name is. In Milan this year, they were using MEN to model WOMEN’s clothes!!! So now we’re supposed to look like men in order to look attractive?! Come on!! This mess the media and our society has created over the ‘perfect image’ is not just leading to total confusion and terribly dangerous eating habits, it is also causing a lot of self hate and building on existing depression.

Cutting, eating disorders and suicide, very different symptoms of the same problem are gaining on us. The problems being alienation and depression; the symptoms: cutting and suicide. Personally I don’t know one single person who does not at least know of 2 such victims. This is a global problem and we are ALL affected! Chrisselle started DLYG because she’s tired of seeing her friends suffer in silence and feel so helpless that they take their own life. And so am I!!!

That is how DLYG Zimbabwe was born. This global problem of ours needs our attention right now! I know that Zimbabwe has a lot of other issues that some may say take precedence and to some extend I agree but that doesn’t mean we can ignore mental health and wellbeing. If we are dumb enough to ignore these problems right now, it will lead to devastating affects we, as a country, have no means to defend against.

Living with disrupted power supply; limited communication with the world outside Zimbabwe unless you use technology from down South; driving down roads where there are more potholes than actual tar left; looking at fields that use to be known as Africa’s breadbasket only to see wild flowers and dirt there instead of maize; walking into any shop in the country and seeing the face of The Man who has forgotten what the word ‘president’ means and being the last of your family still remaining in a country most of the world has written off can be very depressing!! You cannot honestly tell me that you are not saddened by what you see. But the amazing thing about Zimbabwe is its people! The hope that exists in their hearts is second to none! Zimbabwe is a rich country not by monetary standards but by heart!

So I urge all of you, to stand with me and acknowledge that you see the person standing next to you; that you see their suffering [depression]; that you see their cries for help [cutting, eating disorders] and that you help me raise awareness so we can help each other.

Keep your faith in humanity strong,

AM

Antidepressant Tips

This month (May) is Mental Health Month and as glad as I am for the opportunity to discuss these issues more openly, I wish we lived in a time where we didn’t need a month to remind us to be aware of those suffering in silence.

In honour of Mental Health awareness, I’ve been testing out a few anti depressant *tips*the last 10 days [and will continue to try out for the rest of the month]. These have all been accredited by varies medical research clinics and depression foundations but I would like to have a bit more proof. I’ll be sharing my experiences with you over on twitter. Here are the *tips*

  1. Get out more!

Firstly getting sun increases your body’s natural production of Vitamin D which in return lifts your mood. Also, a change of scenery might just do the trick and allow your mind a much needed break from all the worries of the world. Also, light regulates or body clocks so when it gets cold and dark early we go into hibernation mode and psychologically withdraw. Engaging with people should lift your mood and self esteem, which is why I’m organizing a dinner out with friends once a week, tea with friends twice a week and instead of watching the rugby at home, I’m making a day OUT of it.

  1. Eat more fish

Fish is rich in Omega 3 and according to a bunch of ‘almost vegetarians’ people who eat fish are much happier. So I’ll be giving it a go. My diet does not really have fish scheduled in it so it’s been a bit of a shock to my system so far but it does seem to be working [although we’re only on day 10 so let’s see if it lasts]. I’ve have some form of fish every second day of the month so far. Some of it was a whole meal, others were just a tuna sandwich and I’ve discovered this dried out tiny little fish thing that’s quite salty and I actually enjoy eating a lot and since it’s not something I have to prepare, just a snack, I think it works really well.

  1. Other diet changes

Vitamin D in eggs and oily fish increases serotonin (via www.galennaturopathic.com ) which lifts your mood. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are rich in Folic Acid and Zink (via UK Mental Health Foundation) which improves the mood of depressed patients. Vitamin B for breakfast like oats increases serotonin production and again: it leads to good chemicals in your body. These are simple things most of us have in our diets anyway but it might be worth increasing when we feel those dark clouds headed towards us. Besides, it’s an action we can take and that in itself gives us back our power [and self confidence to some extend].

  1. Go old school

My grandmother never went to bed without her warm water bottle. I always just chocked it up to her arthritis or ‘just something grandmothers do’ but psychological research has shown that, like a teddy bear, using a hot water bottle is incredibly soothing to the soul. So when you feel alone or just need a hug and there isn’t anyone around to give it to you, hug your warm and cosy water bottle.

  1. Go on vacation

Negative ionizers act as antidepressants as it increases serotonin levels. These negative ionizers are naturally found in places like waterfalls, beaches and forests. This in itself is a great medical reason to go on holiday. Plus, you get to take a break from all the everyday stuff that piles up and leaves you feeling overwhelmed or depressed. However, not everyone can afford to go on holiday nor do we have the time. So if you are lucky enough to live close to any of these places, go for a daily walk or even a weekend camping trip. If you happen to live in the middle of nowhere, try listening to sounds from these places or flipping through photos of them, it might just relax you too.

  1. Exercise releases endorphins

Like most of us know: running or playing sports or basically any type of exercise has a way of lifting our spirits [along with our bum line]. Besides the fact that it gives you a reason to get out of bed and face the world, it also releases endorphins [like with chocolate] it helps us feel more confident, energized and enthusiastic. So try to get 40min to an hour of exercise in a day. Doing it with your friends or a partner tends to be more effective [in my opinion].

  1. Staring into a live fire

This is an interesting one! Apparently staring into a live fire for an hour will be calming. Since it’s still too hot here to sit by a fire every night, I’ve decided to do a little experiment. I’m watching a video of a live fire [with sparkling twitches and crackling mini-explosions included] on my laptop while I fall asleep. The aim is to test whether it is the CO2 levels of the fire that trick you into being drowsy leading you to believe you are relaxed or if it is the heat [like the water bottle] or if it simply the colours. It might also just be the lack of other distractions but I’ll test that with meditation at a later stage. Also a great excuse for a romantic evening [you can even include a meal of fish and mash followed by an evening stroll down to the beach] followed by an early morning [getting up with sunrise, going for a jog together and eating a breakfast rich in Vitamin B].

  1. Fresh flowers

Again something my grandmother took the time to do: fresh flowers in every room, every single day. Even though none of us really appreciated it back then, we still maintain that tradition, which might be why that house has some of the happiest memories of my childhood. It ties in really well with the belief that smells with happy memories attached to it will lift your mood. I’m taking the opportunity to go run outside in the rain [like I use to when I was little and care free] and also got my grandmother’s cook book and started cooking all those lovely smelling food that makes my mouth water while I smile remembering all those amazing memories attached to each meal.

  1. Add a little colour

Orange lifts depression and yellow brings optimism. So I’ve changed my curtains to yellow along with my bed linen and my pillow and duvet are both orange. I’m also attempting to wear something yellow or orange every second day… surprisingly I have a lot of items in those colours in my wardrobe. Granted, it sounds like a makeover from hell but I have to admit that is really does seem to be working, I love being in my room again and I feel oddly more confident in those colours than the usual blues and reds I tend to wear.

So these are the things I’ll be trying out along with the most important TIP when it comes to any mental illness [or disorder for that matter] which is: to talk about it! I know it’s hard and most of the time when you feel depressed you really don’t know why but taking an hour or two to acknowledge that you have emotions about something is vital! This will probably be one of the hardest *tips* for me to try but from experience I know how well it works. I’ve picked 5 really sad movies [including Pay It Forward, My Sister’s Keeper and The Ultimate Gift] and stocked up on some chocolates and tissues for those moments I want to cry but don’t know why. My theory is that by watching a sad movie, I subconsciously give myself permission to be sad and fall apart and eventually acknowledge my own feelings, without having to discuss it with someone.

I know discussion is key in ending the judgement and helping to change the stigma around depression, self harm and even suicide but sometimes you really don’t know how to express what you are feeling or thinking and it scares you. How can you expect someone to understand how you feel when you yourself have no clue? For me watching a movie and spending an hour crying has a way of either lifting my mood when the end credits start to play or at least allows my brain to bring those issues bugging me to the forefront so I can actively deal with them. Knowing what the problem is lifts a huge weight off my shoulders.

I have also found an amazing comfort in all of my twitter friends and the support group I have built there. It is wonderful to know that halfway around the world there is someone feeling the way I do and who really understands me, even when I don’t, because they have been there and they have gotten through it. If you’d like to join my amazing twitter family, you are welcome to @am_mf.

I would love to hear what you are doing for Mental Health Month so feel free to contact me either on twitter or by leaving a comment on here. Also, if you or anyone you know suffers from depression or have suicidal thoughts, you should check out the Don’t Lose Your Grip charity benefit and organization / support group or TWLOHA who deal with self injury [cutting].

Let’s end the stigma,

AM