The Magazine Devoted to Mental Health
Responding or reacting 5 essential techniques you need to know when emotions run high
Time to talk PTSD The truth behind the myths
Aug 2018 / £4
The Mental Health Foundation:
MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL Call
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“I stopped needing
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FEELING phubbed off?
Ideas to light up summer
Get intimate & start pushing the right buttons
T H E EX
Finding therapy in the gym, and love on the dancefloor... strictly speaking
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Good News | Real Life Tasty Recipes | Expert Advice | Self-Care
REACH OUT “The best advice I can give to anyone going through a rough patch is to never be afraid to ask for help.” – Demi Lovato
Photography | Holly Mandarich
Photography | Annie Spratt
Take care “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde. Rather than taking this as a cynical view of the world, maybe we should adjust our perspective, and see it as a way for us to stop beating ourselves up when something goes wrong. Every mishap could be a chance to learn. Every wrong footing is the chance to step-up.
But look after one, and the other will improve. So this month we want to encourage you to discover what soothes your mind when it needs a break most. What do you do to take care of yourself both physically and mentally, to restore your energy and find your flow again?
While the ongoing cycle of taking our experiences and turning them into something constructive can get exhausting, and there are days when finding a positive is more draining than you thought possible, keep at it.
Whether your therapy is in the catharsis of writing, like many of our contributors, or in the rush of endorphins when you push yourself to new limits in the gym like our amazing cover star Gemma Atkinson, or in achieving inner peace through meditating like actress Amy Adams, find what works for you.
Remember that you are growing as a person from each new “experience”; the important thing is to take care of yourself while you’re going through it.
As poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.”
We all know that our body and mind are connected – and when we get a knock-back and things don’t go our way, it can affect us both physically and mentally. I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve been unbearably stressed at work, and found myself run-down, exhausted, and physically aching with the weight of that tension.
Damn right. Enjoy the issue.
Rebecca Thair Acting Editor
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Sneak peek of the issue
18 Gemma Atkinson
8 The news in August
A candid chat on conquering the bodyshaming trolls, and why health means so much more to her than appearance
40 Essential summer reads
14 What is ‘phubbing’? 72 Changing the face of
60 Making the Yoga Quota
The brand looking to challenge our perceptions of visual difference
64 Chloe Madeley
Learning to heal her anxiety through a love for exercise, and embracing her new-found body confidence
Life Stories 29 Making a difference
fashion: Rebecca Violette
86 The Mental Health
Foundation: charity special
Food & Drink 48 Melissa Hemsley
Chatting tasty but simple cooking, food waste, and respecting our resources with one half of the Hemsley sisters
Sean developed PTSD after the Manchester Arena attacks, but recognised the value in receiving help as soon as possible – and wants to share his wisdom with others
54 Snack attack
45 Grief isn’t the enemy
56 Understanding PCOS
Yoga came to the rescue for Lesley, who spent years bottling up her emotions, but found a special release in the practice
69 One in fifteen
Imagine being told that not only do you have a tumour, but it’s so rare that only 15 people in the world have it. This was Kevin’s reality, but he’s staying positive
83 Taking back control
Years without a diagnosis put Karen in danger, but she persisted to finally receive the appropriate support for bipolar disorder
Happiful Hacks 16 C areer goals after time off
work for your mental health
26 Responding or reacting 38 PTSD misconceptions 80 Find your ‘flow’
12 The wellbeing wrap
A selection of books to both benefit your mind, and entertain you over the holidays
Meet the charity making the mindful practice accessible to all who need it
A healthy recipe for the ultimate snack to keep those hunger pangs at bay throughout the day
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What the condition is, recognising the symptoms, and what you can do about them, with our expert nutritionist
Lifestyle & Relationships 32 Amy Adams
The five-time Oscar nominee talks about empowering women and addressing her own anxieties
Completely free online
37 10 things to do this month
Same great content as in print
75 Apps to get you organised
Exclusive offers & competitions!
Our top picks to reduce stress as you make efficiency your target
77 Grief encounter
Comedian Eshaan Akbar discusses the weight of grief, and how comedy can help to lift the burden
90 Unsung hero
The mother supporting her daughter through her mental health battles
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EXPERT PANEL Introducing the professionals behind Happiful Magazine helping to ensure we deliver the highest quality advice
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CONTRIBUTORS Gemma Calvert, Bonnie Evie Gifford, Maurice Richmond, Becky Wright, Fiona Thomas, Kat Nicholls, Lucy Donoughue, Ellen Hoggard, Nicki Williams, Stacey Barber, Eshaan Akbar, Karen Alford, Jan Janssen, Sean Gardner, Lesley Pyne, Kevin Oâ€™Neil, Karen Manton
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Nicki is an award-winning nutritionist, and a leading expert in womenâ€™s health.
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Graeme is a counsellor who specialises in relationships and advises on our life stories.
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Positive news that transforms the world
Dads bare all to raise awareness of men’s mental health
New #FatherFigures campaign hopes to raise awareness of parental mental wellbeing and body positivity
More than 80% of men talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by focusing on perceived flaws or imperfections, like hair loss or weight. For women, this is slightly lower at 75%.
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depression, this new campaign hopes to reassure dads who may be struggling that they aren’t alone. “Men’s and dads’ mental health is an important area where we need to increase awareness, and reduce stigma,” says Dr Emma Hepburn, a clinical psychologist. “Research suggests men are less likely to seek mental health support or disclose concerns to their friends and family.” Dr Hepburn continues: “Parenthood presents a number of challenges to mental health, and research shows there are higher rates of mental health conditions in the early years of fatherhood. Increasing awareness of men’s mental health, and ways to seek help and support, can help break down some of the barriers men face when they experience mental health difficulties.”
Despite high numbers of men experiencing mental health problems, only one in eight go on to get a diagnosis. This new campaign hopes to share the message that it’s OK for dads to discuss their feelings, and wants to encourage them to take time to relax their minds and bodies to recover from everyday stress. By showcasing the variety of shapes and sizes that father’s bodies come in, the campaign wants to encourage body confidence in men, allowing them to discover more about mental health and the help available, as well as inspiring the confidence to ask for help when they need it. Dads can join in and show their support by writing #FatherFigures on their body, and uploading a photo of themselves to social media. Bonnie Evie Gifford
Photography | Chris Hogben chrishogben.co.uk
he number one network for fathers in the UK, the Dad Network, has launched a new campaign to highlight the links between mental wellbeing and body perceptions. Using the hashtag #FatherFigures, their aim is to raise awareness of men’s common mental health issues, in order to help men find a happier, healthier version of themselves. #FatherFigures hopes to not only affect how men see themselves, but also to highlight the impact dads’ mental and physical health can have on their kids, through encouraging dads to celebrate the bodies they have, and tackling stereotypes of what a “normal” man’s body should look like. With one in four men affected by mental health problems and one in 10 dads experiencing postnatal
A year of national conversation about mental health has led to a decline in loneliness Research from Mind shows that one in three people ‘feel less alone’ following 12 months of mental health media coverage
survey by the mental health charity Mind has revealed that a year’s worth of news coverage, soap storylines, documentaries, dramas and celebrity interviews has helped 31% of people surveyed to feel “less alone” and more likely to start conversations about mental health. “Last year saw an unprecedented amount of coverage of mental health issues,” says Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind. “There has been a sea-change in people’s confidence to open up, and a recognition that in doing so it can help others who may be struggling in silence.” Over the past year, many high-profile people have stepped forward to talk about their experiences, and 53% of those surveyed by Mind attributed the rise in mental health coverage to the royal family, whose Heads Together campaign has been a significant driver of the conversation.
Elsewhere in the media, mental health has been at the centre of soap storylines including in ITV’s Coronation Street where the focus was put on suicide and OCD. But Mind has found that coverage like this doesn’t just start conversations, it also inspires people to take action with 26% of people who saw a mental health storyline in a soap contacting a friend, colleague or loved one experiencing mental health problems, and 16% of people seeking professional help for themselves. “2017 felt like a real turning point. A lot of people feel up for being very honest, and that’s a very scary thing to do,” says Mind ambassador, Fearne Cotton. “The more people that have done it, the more people want to come out and talk about their own story, and the more people that do that the better. Because we are all then in a gang that can help each other.” Kathryn Wheeler
Government pledges £20 million to tackle loneliness Charities and community groups will be given £20 million to fund programmes to help isolated people and those who are suffering from loneliness. In England, 5% of people report feeling lonely “often” or “always”, with those who are single or widowed at particular risk. Speaking of the funding, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Feeling lonely or isolated can have a profound and devastating impact on people’s lives – it can affect anyone of any age and from any background. But just as loneliness can affect any of us, so any of us can help to overcome it.”
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Number of doctors training to be psychiatrists at a 10-year high New figures show an increase in the number of doctors in England training for a specialism in psychiatry, as research shows one in 10 consultant positions remain vacant
ealth Education England (HEE) has revealed that 307 doctors are due to begin specialist psychiatric training this year – a 10-year high. It compares with 239 doctors who took the same route last year. After medical school, trainees are required to complete a two-year foundation training programme before deciding whether to follow either general or specialist medicine. The six-year specialist psychiatry training programme is the final step towards becoming a consultant psychiatrist – the most senior doctor specialising in mental health. Professor Wendy Reid, HEE’s Director of Education and Quality, believes more people signing up for further training is a big step towards delivering better psychiatric care. She said: “We have worked hard to ensure that mental health has the same prominence as physical health, which means investing in and developing a sufficient workforce to help meet growing demand. “This increase in fill-rate for psychiatry training is a fantastic achievement for the profession, and a huge step towards delivering tangible benefits for patients.”
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It comes as part of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ #choosepsychiatry campaign, which bids to get more doctors into the sector. Stephen Fry, president of the mental health charity Mind, has backed the campaign by highlighting that it was the work of a psychiatrist which ultimately saved his life. He said: “I support the RCPsych #ChoosePsychiatry campaign because I am only too aware from my own experiences that psychiatrists are vital to supporting people with mental illness. “My psychiatrist saved my life. Physical health is important, but nowhere near as exciting as the science of cognition and consciousness – so I am delighted that a record number of junior doctors this year have accepted posts in psychiatry. They are the people who will help patients of the future.” Research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists shows one in 10 consultant posts are currently vacant, prompting experts to welcome news that an ever increasing number of doctors are opting to specialise in psychiatry. It is hoped that the increasing number of doctors training in the sector can help to fill these positions. Maurice Richmond
£1.6 million funding boost for new and expectant mothers’ mental health Mothers in south-west London experiencing mental ill-health are set to benefit from extra funding. The NHS has set aside £1.6 million to support community perinatal mental health teams in Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth. Given that one in four pregnant women suffers from mental health problems, according to researchers at King’s College London, it is hoped that this funding will allow at least 30,000 more women to gain access to treatment closer to home through community services and inpatient mother and New Mother baby units. s The funding is part of a nationwide approach to cover pregnancy and the first year after birth. South-west London is one of the first areas to receive the funding, and southeast London will benefit in the second wave.
Eating with friends could significantly boost our happiness A study by Sainsbury’s, with Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research, has found that people who eat alone report lower levels of happiness than those who eat with others
n a survey of 8,250 British adults, researchers found a distinct link between eating with others and reported levels of happiness and satisfaction. Results showed that someone who “never” eats alone had a happiness score 7.9 points higher than a person reporting that they “always” eat meals alone. While researchers are still unsure of exactly what is causing this correlation, they speculate that taking part in social rituals, particularly ones that often involve conversations and story-telling, leaves us feeling fulfilled and included. “At a psychological level, having friends just makes you happier,” Robin Dunbar, a professor of psychology who worked on the study, told the Guardian. “The kinds of things that you do around the table with other people are very good at triggering the endorphin system, which is part of the brain’s painmanagement system. Endorphins are
opioids, they are chemically related to morphine – they are produced by the brain and give you an opiate high.” Speaking on the findings Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “Nothing beats the power of simple human interaction. Spending more time with people face to face, rather than communicating via phones, can really help to improve how well we’re living.” Being in each other’s physical company appears to be the key to the results in this report, with one study from the University of Michigan finding that replacing in-person contact with texts or emails can actually double our risk of depression. Whether it’s an expertly crafted three-course meal or two-for-one takeaway in front of the telly, when it comes to our happiness it’s the company that matters, and tucking in together can have an incredible effect on our emotional wellbeing. Kathryn Wheeler
Dolphins have ‘names’ for their BFFs A study of 17 male bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia, has found that dolphins give individual names to their friends. Dolphin friendships can last a lifetime, and while we knew that dolphins have “signature calls”, this is the first time we’ve seen these whistles tailored for individuals – something that lead scientist, Stephanie King, believes is a key ingredient for long-term friendships. What fin-tastic news.
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wellbeing wrap Coffee to go
Researchers from the US army have developed an algorithm to determine our optimal coffee break schedule. Published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the aim is to help people reach their maximum level of alertness, through drinking the least amount of coffee – and they believe they can reduce caffeine intake by 65%. The only problem is the algorithm isn’t public yet... Until then, we’ll have to try and curb that coffee addiction ourselves!
From the benefits of a good bedtime, to the news cat-people have been waiting for, here’s a quick run-down of the intriguing, inspiring and uplifting things happening in the news this month
Saying no to exercise. Period. One in two British women stop exercising as a direct result of being on their period, according to a new survey from research and opinion company Populus for FitrWoman. And shockingly, in younger respondents (16 to 24-year-olds) this figure rose to 73%, with more than half of the women surveyed stating that they are embarrassed by their periods. It’s time to tackle the taboo of talking about periods, and start the conversation on menstruation.
In what’s believed to be a first for the UK, virtual reality is being used by NHS mental health teams to communicate with the local community affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. Grenfell health and wellbeing service manager Ross O’Brien noted: “It’s been a brilliant enabler to demystify and de-stigmatise the world of mental health.”
Who’s for pizza?
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A free, 24-hour helpline has been set up by the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, with the aim to provide confidential health and wellbeing support for those treading the boards. The scheme will run as a pilot for one year, as a safe space for anyone working in the theatre industry to share their concerns, from their mental health, to finance troubles, to harassment. You can contact the Theatre Helpline either by phoning 0800 915 4617 or emailing advice@ theatrehelpline.org
Food survey commissioned by pharmacyoutlet.co.uk
A survey investigating the UK’s eating habits has discovered the nation’s serial junkfoodies are based in London, with the city coming top for the number of people eating fast food (39%), ready meals (48%), and takeaways (32%) at least once a week. But, taking the crown for skipping their five a day were the people of Northern Ireland, with only 13% making their daily quota. Maybe we can ease into the healthy habits with a veg-tastic homemade pizza instead?
An honourable mention
Dr Wendy Woodhouse | Thomas Kelsey via www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk
Dr Wendy Woodhouse, consultant psychiatrist with the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, after dedicating 32 years of her life to the NHS. Congratulations Wendy!
See the future Scientists from Newcastle University have managed to 3D print the cornea from a human eye, in a groundbreaking development. Though there is still a long way before such an eye could be transplanted into a patient, the possibilities this opens up are incredible. Eventually, a limitless supply of artificial corneas could be created to help restore sight in those who are blind.
As adults, a lot of us love nothing more than getting straight into our PJs after a long day at work, but when it comes to kids, getting them tucked up at night can be a bit more of a challenge. However, new research published in BMC Public Health has found getting a good bedtime routine can contribute positively to children’s wellbeing. In the study, children with an “optimal bedtime routine” were better prepared for school, had better oral health, and better cognitive functioning.
And I would… drive… 2,614 miles In January, one-year-old boxer mix Penelope was picked up as a stray in Texas, and transferred to Minnesota by an animal rescue group. They soon realised that the pup was deaf, but recognised basic hand commands – leading them to believe her owner was out there. And luckily, five months later, the owner spotted her in a Facebook post from the shelter. The team drove Penelope 2,614 miles home for her reunion! That definitely would have set tails wagging.
Thank God for cat Being a cat-person can benefit your mental health, doctor of psychology and clinical social worker Dr Danielle Forshee told Elite Daily. Talking to your feline friend like you would your BFF can deepen the bond between you, in the same way as interaction between humans! Even just owning a pet can “reduce stress, help fight depression, lower blood pressure, and prevent heart disease”.
Did you know? Nelson Mandela once said: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Luckily for shrimp, they’ve got a good chance of this winning combination, given that their hearts are located in their heads. Think it puts a new spin on having love on the brain. August 2018 • happiful • 13
The Uplift | The Explainer
Smartphones can add so much to our lives and relationships; we have the ability to keep in touch with our loved ones 24/7, or reconnect with friends across the globe with the touch of a few buttons. But, while our digital relationships can flourish, could technology also be contributing to a breakdown in the connection between real-life couples? If you find yourself feeling like the second most important thing in your relationship – after your partner’s phone – the answer could be yes... Writing | Becky Wright
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
ou’ve certainly had it done to you, and you’ve (more than likely) done it to someone else. Snubbing the person in front of you by being engrossed in your phone – also known as “phubbing” – is a frustrating, and increasingly common, part of our modern world. But, more than just a mere annoyance, according to relationship experts it actually has the potential to spell trouble for your love life. Our phones can prevent us from being present in the moment and, often, what we’re doing is sadly ironic. When submerged in our phones, we’re usually connecting with another person on the other end of the screen. But, what we’re very rarely thinking about is how our actions can severely disrupt our in-person relationships – which, usually, tend to be our most important ones.
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In fact, while the top 10 reasons for couples to argue used to include sex, money, household chores and children, it seems that things are changing, with smartphones rapidly rising up that list. Research has revealed that higher levels of phubbing are often associated with greater relationship conflict, according to a study from Brigham Young University, Utah. Not only that but, in relationships where phubbing is a regular occurrence, there is also lower relationship satisfaction. If your conversation or evening meal is disrupted because your partner chooses to check their phone – let alone send a text message, email, or post something on social media – it sends a strong message. It can feel like they’re saying: “What I’m doing on my phone is more important than you,” or, “I’m more interested in my phone than in you.”
Basically, phubbing has us really phubbed-off. Rejections, no matter how small, can be extremely painful. This is because the brain responds in the same way as it does to physical pain – there’s no differentiation. So, even less obvious rejections, such as a partner reaching for their phone in the middle of a conversation, can result in us feeling really hurt and emotionally disconnected from them. But, it might not be as simple as you think; there may be underlying causes for your partner’s behaviour. And it could actually be you who has disconnected emotionally from them. Relationship coach Judy James, a practitioner of emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples, explains: “Your partner’s interaction with their phone could be a distraction from the pain of longing for loving affection. They may feel criticised
and shut out of the relationship. Maybe the relationship no longer feels emotionally safe, and they are subconsciously seeking acceptance in a world outside of your relationship.”
Higher levels of phubbing are often associated with greater relationship conflict While the cause isn’t always clear, one thing that is certain is that phubbing can be damaging, not only to your relationship but to your emotional health as well. It can cause us to feel neglected. You might experience a drop in mood or selfesteem, or even feelings of anger and
resentment. And, over time, these feelings add up. “If the relationship is even just a tad insecure, anything less than complete openness and transparency could give rise to suspicion. The sense of disconnection may trigger anxiety and fear that the relationship is in peril, and cause the anxious partner to question: ‘Do I even matter to you?’” Judy explains. It’s not healthy to foster feelings like these regularly, let alone towards your partner. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, and it’s actually easier than you’d think to avoid these conflicts. It’s all about creating boundaries and being honest with one another. The best way to have the conversation is to approach it in the same way as
you would for any other factor in your relationship. Judy says: “Express your feelings and needs with compassionate curiosity. For example: ‘When I see you on your phone so much I worry that you’re preoccupied with work [or someone/something else]. I care about you and our relationship so much, but I feel isolated.’” Make an effort to be more “present” when you are together. Try creating technology-free zones; leave your phones out of sight when you’re having dinner, allowing yourselves that time to sit and eat together, reflecting on how your day was. Or perhaps, make your bedroom a no-phone zone. This could help you “reconnect” as a couple – and even get a better night’s sleep, too.
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6 REALISTIC CAREER GOALS AFTER TIME OFF WORK
SECRETS FOR SUCCESS
Returning to work following time out for mental illness can be daunting, but by following a few simple steps you can soon get yourself back on track Writing | Fiona Thomas
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
BACK TO WORK
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aking time off work to recover from a mental illness is more prevalent than ever, and an NHS report shows that nearly a third of fit notes are specifically issued because of psychiatric problems. This makes them the most common reason for people to take time off, with a 14% rise in fit notes relating to anxiety and stress in recent years. If, like me, you’ve been signed off for a substantial amount of time, then you’ll know how difficult it can be to get your career back on track. Whether you’re absent for two months or two years, setting realistic career goals takes time and consideration to get right. Here are some pointers on how to make the transition as painless as possible.
1 Be flexible
Setting goals is a great way to get motivated and stay on track, but don’t make your plan so rigid that there’s no room for flexibility. Getting back to work will be hard, and you might have more bad days than good in the beginning. This means that your plan will need plenty of wiggle room, in case you don’t quite meet initial deadlines. Remember, these goals are personal to you – and often self-imposed – so don’t give yourself a hard time if you don’t progress as quickly as anticipated. Slow and steady will win the race and keep your sanity intact.
2 Break it down
Having an epic goal to work towards is cool, but breaking it down into smaller, manageable chunks is better. I do this by writing a monthly checklist with a few simple goals that I can score off as the weeks go by. I make the list short, achievable, and always leave a section blank for new opportunities which might pop up, because planning for the unexpected helps me feel prepared for anything.
3 Pace yourself
You may try to up your game to make up for lost time, but resist the urge to do everything all at once. Your ultimate goal should be to find the perfect balance of excelling in your career while maintaining good mental health, not smashing your goals to your own detriment. When you do achieve each goal, don’t forget to rest, reflect, and give yourself a pat on the back before heading into your next challenge.
4 Recognise your triggers
It’s important to remember that your mental illness may mean your “best” changes when you’re not feeling well. Sometimes just getting up and going to work is a triumph, so you should learn to celebrate the small wins and avoid pushing yourself too much. Keeping a mood diary will point out patterns in your behaviours and allow you to pinpoint your triggers. For example, do you always get stressed before a big meeting? If so, try to schedule activities beforehand that make you feel good, such as a yoga class or a phone call with a supportive friend. Even little habits, such as drinking too much coffee, can lead to feelings of anxiety, so being aware of the things that affect your mood can give you tools to combat issues before they escalate.
5 Work with your employer
If you’ve been off work with a mental illness and you’re returning to the same job as before, then you’re in a good position because your employer will be fully aware of your situation. The chances are they can’t wait to have you back, and will be eager to make your return as smooth as possible. If you’re nervous, ask if you can have a phased return, with fewer hours and less responsibility, to ease you back into your normal duties.
6 Keep your doctor in the loop
Even if you’re feeling positive and productive at work, it’s a good idea to keep your doctor informed about any changes you may be experiencing. Even something as small as waking up in the night can be an indicator that you’re not coping. Attending regular check-ups is a good way to make sure that any red flags are dealt with swiftly, and keeping your doc up to date with your career goals might explain any fluctuations in mood, as well as inform decisions around any medication you take. You wouldn’t want to start weaning off your meds in the run up to an important presentation or when working towards a promotion, so keep your GP in the loop for a successful return to work.
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Dress | Lace & Beads
Sheâ€™s conquered Strictly, defied social media body-shamers, and made the gym her 'therapy' suite. As actress and radio presenter Gemma Atkinson shares her inspiring story of health evolution with Happiful, she reveals how falling for Strictlyâ€™s Gorka is finally untapping her emotional truth Interview | Gemma Calvert
Photography | Jay Mawson
Gemma Atkinson: Exercising Her Mind
Shirt | Jovonna London, Shorts | Free People
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sk Gemma Atkinson for her definition of true love and, at this moment in time, it’s quite likely to be a tub of sliced Granny Smith apples with a generous side of peanut butter. We’re in a basement lounge of a photographic studio in Salford Quays where Gemma, 33, is making short work of the salubrious mid-morning snack, which was hand-delivered to her workplace earlier today by her Strictly Come Dancing pro boyfriend of six months, Gorka Márquez – or Gorks, as she calls him. “He brought me this and some chicken and veg because he knew I was heading straight to the Happiful shoot and wouldn’t have time to grab something to eat,” says Gemma, crunching into a piece of apple. “He always makes sure that I’m OK and I genuinely feel like he cares. He does little things like filling up my car with petrol so I don’t have to, and when he walks past me he’ll kiss me on the forehead. “I’ve always dated people who train or are athletes, so physically I’ve always felt looked after, but with Gorks I feel both physically and mentally cared for. Never in my life have I felt as emotionally supported in a relationship. For the first time I feel protected.” Gemma and Gorka, 27, met on the most recent series of BBC One’s dance contest, which saw them both
in the final with their respective partners: Gemma was paired with 19-times Slovenian ballroom champion Aljaž Škorjanec, while Gorka joined forces with singer Alexandra Burke. For the duration of Strictly, Gemma and Gorka were “just friends” who met for coffee every Sunday before Gemma’s train journey home to Manchester. They got together over new year, and spent three weeks together on tour before going public with the romance on Valentine’s Day when Gemma posted a holiday snap of herself and Gorka on Instagram, with the words: “Here’s to many more, kid.” It was perfectly Gemma – sincere, playful and fuss-free – and she’s exactly the same today, sitting here without a scrap of makeup on, wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt and Nike trainers, and sipping a mug of camomile tea as she chats candidly.
If there’s a tragedy or something goes wrong, I keep it together and I’m strong. It’s only when my mum does the head tilt and asks if I’m OK that I crumble Gemma is into her 17th year in the public eye. Her first acting job was in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks playing troubled teenager Lisa Hunter, then came roles in Casualty and Emmerdale, plus reality shows including I’m A Celebrity… Get Met Out Of Here! in 2007. Gemma has appeared in films – in 2011 she starred alongside Richard E. Grant
and Pamela Anderson in the comedy How to Stop Being a Loser – and on stage, but her home is now Hits Radio, formerly Manchester’s Key 103, where she co-hosts the weekday breakfast show with Gethin Jones and Comedy Dave. None of this – absolutely none of it – has altered Gemma. She remains, in her own words, “probably the least showbiz person” and still resides in Bury, the town in which she was born and raised. “Some people are shocked that I live in Bury and not in London,” she says. “I don’t like London! It’s too busy for me. I live a 10-minute walk from the house I was born in, I go in the same pub and post office that I always have, I’ve got all the same friends.” One pal of 15 years is her former Key 103 co-host Mike Toolan, who she reports has spotted a shift in her temperament since Spaniard Gorka waltzed onto the scene. “Apparently, I’ve changed but in a really good way,” explains Gemma. “Mike’s seen me with different guys and says that Gorka is the only lad I’ve properly been ‘together’ with because I’ve treated all the others like mates. Gorka has definitely softened me. I’ll sit next to him and lean my head on his, and I’ll hold hands with him all the time. “I rarely used to volunteer my feelings, but I’m starting to do it more so now with Gorka,” she adds. “He’s brought it out of me!” Historically, Gemma has been reluctant to verbalise her emotions, prompting her mum to nickname her “ice queen”. “If something is bothering me, I deal with it myself until someone goes ‘Are you OK?’ and then I’ll cry. If there’s a tragedy or something goes wrong, Continues >>>
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Gemma Atkinson: Exercising Her Mind
I keep it together and I’m strong. It’s only when my mum does the head tilt and asks if I’m OK that I crumble,” explains Gemma. “My first engagement at the age of 23 only lasted seven weeks. I knew from week two that I didn’t want to be in the relationship, but because we’d arranged an engagement party and people had bought us gifts, I went along with it. Inside I was screaming ‘I don’t want to do it!’ and as soon as the guests left, mum said: ‘Gemma, you don’t have to go through with this if you don’t want to.’ I burst out crying. She’d read my mind.”
she was admitted to hospital three times with bladder infections, which doctors confirmed were sparked by exhaustion. “The last time was when I was 23 and going through the engagement stress,” she says. “It’s been 10 years since I’ve been admitted for anything, and I think that’s because I’m looking after myself – it’s serving a purpose.” On top of her brilliant dry wit and badass ballroom skills, Gemma is well known for her body. She “does something” physical every day, even if it’s a snatched 20 minutes on her StairMaster at home, and her Instagram is peppered with pictures and videos of her gruelling gym workouts. Following the launch of her GA by Gemma Atkinson gym wear collection in May, Gemma will soon release her debut book The Ultimate Body Plan, which details the health programme that “drastically” changed Gemma’s body and life five and a half years ago after she was introduced to weight training by Olly Foster, the personal trainer who she dated until 2016. “I remember saying to him, ‘I don’t think I should be lifting weights, shall I not just do some cardio?’ and he said: ‘If you want to look feminine, you need to lift weights.’ “It’s about using your body to celebrate what it can do, and the byproduct of that is you start toning up and looking leaner but, for me, the mental benefits far outweigh the physical. It gave me more confidence, I began sleeping better, my skin was better and I had more energy.”
Exercise is my outlet. I know some people who have had talking therapy and it’s worked amazingly for them, but I’ve never been in a situation where I felt I needed it. The gym is my therapy Learning to say “no” was another step in the direction of Gemma’s newfound self-assurance, which she attributes to maturity and realising that her wants and needs are of equal worth to anyone else’s. “You have to prioritise yourself above everyone else, not in the sense of pushing in front of someone in a queue, but with age I’ve learned how to say ‘no’ to things,” says Gemma. “In the past, I wanted to please everyone, but I’m more selfassured now, so if I don’t want to do something or be somewhere, I’ll pass and it feels good.” Her assertiveness is benefiting Gemma’s health too. In the past,
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Gemma, who says she has always had a “really happy relationship” with her body, denies that she’s gym obsessed. But she does concede, though, that the feel-good results of exercise are addictive, whatever the weather. “Some people, when stressed or happy, have a cigarette or a drink or will buy a new handbag; I go to the gym,” says Gemma. “If I’m happy, I train. If I’m trying to get over sadness, I’ll train. If I’m stressed and need to punch something, I’ll train. Exercise is my outlet. I know some people who have had talking therapy and it’s worked amazingly for them, but I’ve never been in a situation where I felt like I needed it. The gym is my therapy.” In May, when Gemma learned of plans to turn Key 103 into a national station as part of a multimillionpound rebrand, she used exercise to help deal with stress over the prospect of change. “I was settled in my job and it felt like I was starting over again, so I messaged my trainer to say ‘I need to see you’ because I felt so anxious,” she explains. “I get stressed if a situation happens that’s not in my control, so although I can’t control what station my boss puts me on, how many people listen or what songs we play, I can control my hour at the gym – my ‘me time’. “Sometimes, if I’ve not had a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling crap, I’ll do 20 minutes on the StairMaster, sweat buckets and feel like a new person.” The sad irony of Gemma’s inspiring body is the flack she receives from misogynist social media trolls, who are disquieted by a female with a strong and functional physique. Continues >>>
Bikini top | Heidi Klein, Shorts | Free People, Top | River Island
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Gemma Atkinson: Exercising Her Mind
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Hair and makeup | Thembi Mkandla at Creatives Agency using Laura Mercier and Neal and Wolf Styling | Krishan Parmar
Earlier this year, one follower complained that her muscles “are not a good look for a young lady”. “Imagine if that guy has a little girl who wants to be a gymnast or an Olympian. Would he deny her that dream because she will end up too muscly? Did Jessica Ennis’s family say to her: ‘You’re too muscular, you need to stop running’?” Gemma appears perplexed. Have the body-shaming slurs ever made her doubt herself? “No. I’ve always had a real happy relationship with my body,” she replies. “I’ve never felt too big or too small, it’s always been the perceptions of other people, but everything that’s negative comes from them being insecure about themselves. I now consider it rationally, rather than reacting emotionally.” With half a million Instagram followers, Gemma is serious about her responsibility as a role model, particularly to young girls. Her Insta-posts from the gym are always makeup-free (“If I don’t look like I’ve been dug up after a workout, I’ve not worked out hard enough”) and she was once applauded for honestly posting a video after waxing her “moustache” (“I don’t pretend to be perfect”). Gemma also recently declined a lucrative offer to promote a diet pill brand (“My niece is 14 and if I ever found out she was on diet pills, I’d wonder where we went wrong as a family”). As children, Gemma and her sister Nina were required to eat vegetables with every dinner, but on Fridays were treated to “a chippy tea” – a bag of chip-shop chips in front of the television, which is a tradition Gemma continues to this day. “In the week, I eat my vegetables and fruits, but on a Friday I either
It hit me that life’s too short. Dad was only 52 and very healthy – there was nothing wrong with him. Since then I’ve wanted to take care of myself as best I can, and that’s why I always drill that health is more important than what you look like have a chippy tea or a pizza, and if I want a glass of wine at the weekend, I have it. You shouldn’t punish yourself for slipping up,” she says. “The day after a pizza, I wake up a bit bloated and I’m wary of the effect it has on my mood because you are what you eat and if you’re eating crap all day, you’re going to feel crap, but I only do it once a week so I never stress. It’s about balance.” Gemma bemoans TV shows like Take Me Out and Love Island where contestants are judged instantly on their looks alone and hopes to inspire others to become gym-motivated for the health benefits rather than aesthetic rewards. Her reasons are simple, personal – and heartbreaking. When Gemma was 17, her dad David died from a heart attack, and his sudden departure had a profound effect on her attitude to self-care. “It hit me that life’s too short,” she says. “Dad was only 52 and very healthy. He never smoked and only drank every few weeks – there was nothing wrong with him. Since then I’ve wanted to take care of myself as best I can, and that’s why I always drill that health is more important than what you look like.” After David passed away, Gemma and her family “made a pact to never be scared to speak about him” and the support she received from her family was, she says, “my counselling”.
Gemma has now lived for as many years without her dad as she had with him. I ask what he would make of Gorka. “I think he’d love him,” smiles Gemma. “He’d say he’s a gentleman. Everyone who’s met Gorka says that.” Gorka is competing in the new series of Strictly but Gemma doesn’t fear that their relationship will be blighted by the so-called Strictly curse, which has led to countless contestants and professional dancers breaking up or divorcing after taking part. “I’ve been in relationships before when I’ve looked elsewhere, not acted on it, but I’ve looked because I wasn’t happy at home but didn’t have the strength to say to my partner that it wasn’t working,” says Gemma, who has been romantically linked to Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs in the past. “If you’re content at home and you’re honest, which Gorka and I always have been, I don’t think it matters.” In any case, Gemma has a more genuine concern on her plate. “My biggest fear for this year is that Aljaž and Gorka are in the dance-off,” she says. “I won’t know who to vote for!” Gemma’s debut fitness clothing range, GA by Gemma Atkinson, is available exclusively via gemmaatkinson.co.uk Follow Gemma on Instagram @glouiseatkinson, and listen to her breakfast radio show on Hits Radio, weekdays from 6am.
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The difference may not sound huge but is, in fact, vast, when it comes to what’s going on inside our brains Writing | Becky Wright
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
e all have moments when we feel put on edge, or even angered, by other people’s words or actions. Moments when you feel your blood boil and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It’s like being on red alert. At times like these the brain jumps into autopilot, releasing fast-acting stress hormones, activating our “fight or flight” mode. In prehistoric times, this was useful – to help us flee from danger or to stand our ground and defend our territory. But, nowadays, this caveman-esque reaction isn’t as productive. We’re all affected differently by stress, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who can become snappy. I “react”, rather than stay cool. While reacting is our natural instinct, too many of us spend our time in reactive mode. A stress reaction is when we react automatically to a situation. We aren’t fully aware of what we’re doing. The good news is there are things we can do to change our behaviour, such as learning to respond, rather than react. What is a reaction? When you react, it’s automatically defensive. You feel at a disadvantage and let your emotions take centre stage. You lose your sense of reason and make assumptions about what people’s intentions are. What is a response? Responding requires your brain to be calm. You might notice your immediate urge to get angry – but pause. You recognise that the other person may not be considering how you are feeling. It’s about taking a look at the bigger picture. This is the behaviour we need to strive for, for optimum happiness and health.
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So what’s the difference? The act of reflection is the key difference between responding and reacting; reflecting on the situation and considering your next move. Reflection can be as short or as long as you need it to be, but the key is breaking the habit of reaching for your initial gut reaction. In situations that might require an immediate response, your reflection time could be a pause for breath – even a second or two is enough time to consider your actions.
1 Become aware of when you want to react Notice what your stress triggers are. The next time you feel yourself getting angry, resist doing anything. Consider what the ramifications of that reaction would be and whether this would make the situation worse.
2 Allow yourself to stop
Pause and give yourself a moment to consider how best to move forward. Often, when we’re busy and feel rushed, we rely on knee-jerk reactions.
3 Try simply removing yourself from the situation
Go for a walk or leave the room for a moment. This can give you space and time to think of the best form of response.
4 Practise mindfulness
Try to find gratitude in every day. Perhaps write the stress triggers down – this has been shown to decrease future escalations. It’s about trying to slow your thoughts down and reflecting on the things you can control in your life.
Try this breathing technique to improve self-awareness and reflection, from counsellor Justin Lee Slaughter: 1.Check in with your body. Notice how it feels to sit against the chair or how your feet feel on the ground. 2. Pay attention to your breathing – especially shallow or erratic breaths. 3. Inhale deeply from the stomach upwards, filling the torso. Count to three. Imagine letting go, or say “let go” as you exhale deeply for five. Repeat this three to five times. 4. Notice how your body feels now. If you still notice feelings of stress, anxiety or anger, explore where in your body these feelings reside. Notice subtle sensations. Does this decrease or increase, or change, is it hot or cold? 5. Imagine treating your feelings with a sense of compassion. Notice what happens if you treat your emotions with kindness. Continue this in moments of stress, or regularly as a daily practice.
5 Breathe deeply
Taking a few deep breaths can reduce stress and change the outcome of a challenging situation. It changes our physical reaction to stress and gives our frontal lobe – the part of the brain helping us communicate and consider our options – time to produce a thoughtful response.
Taking a few deep breaths can lower stress and change the outcome of a challenging situation. It gives the brain time to produce a thoughtful response August 2018 • happiful • 27
MAKE OTHERS FEEL HEARD 1. Use their name 2. Do more listening than talking 3. Be authentically interested 4. Show you care 5. Be sincere
Photography | Hian Oliveira
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Creating the Trauma Response Network
Sean Gardner developed PTSD following the Manchester terror attack, during which he found himself living every parent’s worst nightmare as he searched for his daughter. But from such a devastating event, Sean has used his experience to create something positive and help others, by launching a unique mental health service
he 22nd May, 2017, is a day that changed my life. On what started as a normal day, I suddenly found myself caught up in the Manchester Arena bombing, which led to me suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My youngest daughter and her friend, like thousands of others, were excited to be attending the Ariana Grande concert, and that evening I went to pick them up after the show. My eldest daughter, Charlotte, was waiting in our car in the Arena car park, while I went into the foyer of Manchester Arena. At the moment when the bomb detonated, I was separated from my daughters, and it was close to two hours before we were reunited. During that time, in the centre of the devastation, I came to the aid of a seriously injured woman.
Despite my best efforts, the woman sadly died before the emergency services arrived. I was living every parent’s nightmare, separated from my children, with no way of knowing if they were OK. I eventually made it back to the car park to discover that thankfully Charlotte was physically unhurt, although, as you would expect, incredibly distressed. Many people were using the car park to escape the devastation unfolding in the lobby, and Charlotte saw lots of badly injured people – as well as emergency services everywhere. Still desperate to find my youngest daughter and her friend, I made the difficult decision to leave Charlotte for a second time, deciding that she was safer staying where she was, while I went back up to search for her sister. Continues >>>
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Sean’s Story My PTSD is certainly an ongoing battle and I still see my therapist regularly, but I feel a lot more in control now Relief flooded through me two hours after the explosion when I finally found her and her friend, safe and sound. They had been in their seats when the bomb detonated, avoiding the blast, and managed to find another way out of the building and to the safety of a nearby hotel. While I know that we are tremendously lucky to have walked out of the Arena with our lives, we were not unscathed by the tragic events that unfolded before our eyes. I experienced severe sleep deprivation for around 40 days, unable to stop replaying the horrific scenes over and over again in my mind. Although I went back to work just days after the attack, I couldn’t get back to normality, and both my work and personal life started to break down. Individuals with physical injuries received immediate emergency care. However under the NHS guidelines for trauma victims, we would have had to wait 90 days before being able to access the support we desperately needed for our mental health. Charlotte had been receiving counselling for anxiety prior to the bombing, which could be why we both recognised so quickly that we were unravelling and needed to get help. I sought help privately for both me and Charlotte, and we were diagnosed with PTSD. We were recommended Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and I was amazed by the immediate impact this had on me.
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A NICE-approved treatment, EMDR is used to treat symptoms of psychological trauma, and is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an effective therapy for people who experience traumatic events. Trauma memories develop when a distressing event is incorrectly stored in the brain as if it’s frozen in the body’s system. When a person with PTSD relives these memories, the experience can be felt with the same emotional intensity as if it were taking place again right there in front of them. EMDR helps to unfreeze these memories by stimulating alternative parts of the brain with eye movement, taps or sounds, helping the brain to consolidate the memories and make them more emotionally bearable than before. I was privileged enough to be in a position where I could access help as soon as I needed it, but reports from the Manchester and London attacks, as well as the awful Grenfell Tower disaster, made me realise that so many people who desperately need it are unable to access immediate mental health support. I felt that this needed to change, and that there should be immediate help for people
Sean and his wife Helen
with mental health injuries following mass trauma, in the same way that ambulances and hospitals provide first aid for people with physical injuries. So, I decided to do something about it and founded the Trauma Response Network (TRN). Launched on the first anniversary of the Manchester bombing, TRN is a not-for-profit service, providing free therapy and support to people affected by mass trauma within the past 90 days. Straight after an event, those affected can self-refer online, benefiting from a free online session with a qualified EMDR therapist in real-time using voice, a video cam, a chat box and an interactive whiteboard. This online session is then followed up with face-to-face therapy of up to five sessions, again delivered for free. I strongly believe that this will bridge the gap when early intervention is needed before the existing service provision can kick in. The online nature of the service is a fairly new approach to psychotherapy, and there has been a similar provision to TRN used very effectively in the US following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. By harnessing technology, I think we’ll be able to reach people who might otherwise have chosen to ignore their symptoms and not to seek help. Particularly when you think about how many young people, like my daughter, were affected by the Manchester bombing, online is an obvious place for them to turn. So, while the last year has been a particularly challenging one for me and my family, I feel buoyed at the moment by what we’ve been able to achieve in setting up TRN. My PTSD is certainly an ongoing battle and I still see my therapist regularly, but I feel a lot more in control now; many of the everyday things that totally floored me a few months ago are once again simple, manageable tasks. Despite the difficulties of the last year or so, my wife, daughters and I have remained a
support to each other, and a close family unit. My daughters are proud of what we’re doing with TRN and Charlotte has become a trustee – being younger, it’s been beneficial having her take on how the service can effectively communicate with young people. Receiving help within weeks after the attack was definitely instrumental in the pace of my recovery, and I would urge others who feel like they’re not coping with day-to-day life to seek help rather than hope their symptoms will go away; a diagnosis and the right therapy could have a huge impact on the rest of their lives. To find out more about the Trauma Response Network, visit traumaresponsenetwork.org
Sean and his daughter Charlotte
Our Expert Says Sean’s story is a potent account of the impact trauma can have on everyday life. Given his experience, it is unsurprising he has suffered ongoing symptoms. While trauma symptoms may quickly fade for some, for others the impact can be very invasive and lasting. The Trauma Response Network provides a much needed short-term service. Those impacted by trauma should trust their own judgement about their therapeutic needs and reach out for help when they feel ready.
Fe Robinson MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
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Culture | Amy Adams
Photography | Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com
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AMY C H A S I N G
ON ANXIETY & LETTING GO OF ‘PERFECT’
With five Oscar nominations to date, Amy Adams is a big box-office draw, but her latest project sees her return to the small screen in an adaption of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects. Her latest role tackles typically taboo topics, including self-harm. We catch up with the actress to learn what it was like to portray mental illness on screen, as well as talking female empowerment, motherhood, and coping with anxiety
elevision is in such a renaissance right now and it’s a wonderful place to tell stories,” Amy Adams reflects, and we certainly agree. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a surge of shows using the medium to explore mental health, from suicide in 13 Reasons Why, to PTSD in The Punisher, and Amy’s latest venture is following suit. The upcoming eight-part series, adapted from the 2006 best-selling debut novel by Gillian Flynn, sees Amy play crime reporter Camille Preaker who has recently been released from a psychiatric clinic after years of self-harm, and is drawn to investigate the murders of two girls as a way of working through her own personal traumas. Camille’s task finds her returning home to battle not only her personal demons, but those of her
Writing | Jan Janssen
relationships with her overbearing mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson), and manipulative sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen). If the gripping trailer for Sharp Objects is any indication, this is liable to be one of the most ambitious ventures of Amy’s career, and one she’s hoping will have a big impact. “I want to develop projects like this which create more work for women,” Amy says. “I’d like to mentor aspiring actresses and give them good advice, just as I was given help in my career. I remember a time where I was feeling very discouraged about not getting enough work and my manager told me: ‘Keep your head up. Work hard. Enjoy your downtime.’” Much of Sharp Objects’ emotional power comes in scenes dealing with Camille’s alcoholism and self-harming that has left her arms with significant
scar-tissue, which she keeps hidden beneath long-sleeved blouses. “What she is covering is so much deeper than scars,” says Amy. “It’s layers of violence, abuse, sadness and pain – and not being able to deal with that. Most people have darkness and demons, and being able to see yourself in a character is just as valuable as separating yourself from them.”
I want to develop projects like this which create more work for women In the course of the three months that she spent inhabiting the character, Amy made a surprising discovery concerning Camille’s self-harming. Continues >>> August 2018 • happiful • 33
Culture | Amy Adams
“What I found interesting is, in the moment of cutting, it’s not punishment – it’s release,” explains Amy. “She’s cutting because she feels punished.” Though our impressions of Amy have been shaped more by her intrepid and earnest screen personae (Arrival, American Hustle) than her at times ferocious (The Master) alter egos, she admits that she is irresistibly attracted to the darker side of human nature. “I sometimes feel like I’m a mess, that I don’t have it together, and it’s so interesting for me to play characters who find life a challenge,” Amy notes. “I grew up in a fairly insular [Mormon] environment and I think the apprehension and anxiety I sometimes have comes from not feeling completely sure of myself when I’m out in the world. This draws me to complicated women who struggle with different aspects of their lives.” Her mother rebelled against the strictures of Mormonism when she
divorced Amy’s father and left the church, when Amy was only 12. From that point on, she looked to her mother as an inspiration.
I think the anxiety I sometimes have comes from not feeling completely sure of myself when I’m out in the world “I’d be such a wimp if it weren’t for my mother,” Adams explains. “She was raised Mormon and growing up in that culture left her with very limited choices. When she divorced my father and started a new life for herself, she became much more self-confident and fearless. She became a bodybuilder and she would take me rock-climbing, saying “You can do it!” even though I
was so afraid. I take my own daughter (Aviana, eight) rock-climbing with me so I can instill in her that kind of self-confidence, and show her how she’s capable of exceeding her limits.” While playing complex or tormented women might offer some actors a cathartic outlet, Adams resists that impulse. “I try not to use films to work out my own junk,” she says. “I pay somebody for that.” She does, however, acknowledge that she underwent a difficult process of self-discovery before she was able to “liberate” herself from a debilitating perfectionist streak that masked an array of underlying anxieties. Amy explains: “I’m [still] a harsh critic of myself [and when] I stopped needing to be perfect, I stopped carrying the weight of criticism. I really was so tired of giving a f**k...” It was after she made her big screen breakthrough in 2005’s Junebug, an event that should have left her “jumping for joy but didn’t”, that Adams became so fed up with her self-imposed stress. “In my late 20s, I realised that I was approaching my career and personal relationships the wrong way, and I needed to change my attitude or I would be a very unhappy person,” Amy says. “I felt insecure and lost. I knew I had to rethink
Left: Amy in ‘Justice League’ Below: Amy stars in ‘Gone Girl’ author Gillian Flynn’s latest film adaptation, ‘Sharp Objects’
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There was a sense of panic and insecurity that struck me because I somehow felt very inadequate
a lot of things about my life. I stopped worrying and stressing about everything, and began to take chances and trust my instincts.” When she and her actor husband, Darren Le Gallo, welcomed a baby girl into their lives, that was another turning point for Amy. “Being a mother has given me a chance to ease up on myself, and free myself from my perfectionist kind of thinking! You can never be a perfect parent – it’s always going to be a process where you discover how you can be more patient or more attentive. You can’t think in those terms. “So I’ve become more forgiving of myself, although there are still moments, like when I was attending the Oscars and in the company of the greatest actors in the business. There was a sense of panic and insecurity that struck me because I somehow felt very inadequate. But practising things like meditation has helped me deal with that kind of anxiety.” In a complete reversal of form compared to her female Mormon ancestors, her husband Darren has chosen to take a back seat in terms of his professional life, and been a stay-athome dad to help Amy’s career.
“We’ve often talked about how sometimes society finds it odd that a women may be the principal breadwinner and the man should occupy the role of looking after the home,” says Amy. “Darren is very happy to do this for me and our daughter, and it’s extremely generous of him to put aside his aspirations to follow me and allow me to work for very long periods away from home.” And on the subject of female empowerment, Amy, while relentlessly good-natured, has learned over time to become much more assertive in every aspect of her world. “I’m pretty strong-willed when it comes to certain things and I can be very stubborn and opinionated,” Amy laughs, “although I’m trying to be less so.”
“I’m generally a pretty cheerful person. But I’m not someone who will back down from a confrontation if the need arises. Earlier in my life, I would let things go, but then I saw that that doesn’t do you any good. “I’m not somebody who’s publicly fierce. I’m more privately fierce. I’m not someone who likes throwing my power around and I don’t make a scene, unless you mess with my daughter!” From speaking with Amy, I imagine her daughter is going to grow up to be a strong, confident force to be reckoned with – just like her mother. Amy’s upcoming series airs on Sky Atlantic from 9 July in the UK. August 2018 • happiful • 35
IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AND SUPPORT Mental Health First Aider and Champion Training Courses
As part of our ongoing commitment to creating a happier and healthier society, we are now excited to add the Mental Health First Aid Champions one-day course to our training solutions being delivered by our partner Simpila Healthy Solutions. All of our mental health training courses (under MHFA England) will help you to develop your own skills, awareness and support to those who are struggling with mental health challenges, at work, home or with friends. The key skills that you will learn are: • a deeper understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect people’s wellbeing, including your own
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• practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues, and the conﬁdence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress • enhanced interpersonal skills, such as non-judgemental listening • knowledge to help someone ﬁnd options and other support to guide them towards recovery • help managers or supervisors of people to encourage and support positive mental health and recovery
The new Mental Health Champions course takes place over one day, with the Mental Health First Aider course taking place over two days. Pricing for both courses will be based
upon the location and delivery requirements, so please do get in touch for more details. Head to events.happiful.com for information about upcoming courses and to sign up. If you are interested in hosting your own course, please get in touch with our instructor partner: firstname.lastname@example.org
'This is a great course and makes me proud to be a Mental Health First Aider. Matt was a great trainer and we had some great group discussions.' – Chloe Sargeant
The Happiful Seal of Approval THE CONVERSATION National Allotments Week: A week to celebrate the psychological and physical benefits of growing your own food. To find open days and events near you, visit the National Allotment Society’s website: nsalg.org.uk (13–19 August)
S QUA R E E Y E S
Images | Pope Francis: A Man of His Word: Focus Features, The Pomodoro Technique: The Life-Changing Time-Management System: Virgin Books, Flo: play.google.com, London Halal Food Festival: londonhalalfoodfestival.com
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word:
The Pope opens his doors for the first time as a documentary crew follows him on his journey to find answers to the questions and challenges that we face today. (In cinemas 10 August)
European Championships 2018: Cheer on team GB at the European Championships in Berlin and Glasgow. From athletics to swimming, golf to mountain biking, witness the finest athletes Europe has to offer, and maybe even feel inspired to take up a new sport yourself. (2–12 August)
From treats for your tastebuds, to time-management tips, and a free festival set within the grounds of a castle, step out of your comfort zone and try something new with our 10 recommendations for August
PUT ON A SHOW Rock at the Castle: An established, free music festival set within the grounds of Hertford Castle. From rock to folk, indie to pop, there's something for everyone at Rock at the Castle. (5 August, visit gohertford.co.uk for more)
PAGE-TURNERS The Pomodoro Technique: The Life-Changing TimeManagement System by Francesco Cirillo. What if burnouts, distractions, and poor work-life balance could be stamped out with just a pen, some paper and a kitchen timer? In his revolutionary book, Francesco Cirillo teaches us to split our days into 25-minute “pomodoros” – something that he believes can transform our productivity. Read all about it, and join the pomodoro revolution. (Out 16 August, Virgin Books £8.99)
OUT AND ABOUT London Halal Food Festival: Treat your tastebuds at the UK’s only halal food festival. Browse food from more than 100 different vendors, listen to talks, and watch live demonstrations by celebrity chefs and international food bloggers. (Tobacco Dock, London, 11–12 August. Find out more at londonhalalfoodfestival.com)
TREAT YOURSELF Neal’s Yard Remedies – Bee Lovely range: A bodycare range that uses honey, beeswax and propolis, along with organic orange essential oil – and donates a proportion of its profits to charities who are working to save the bees. (Find out more at nealsyardremedies.com)
TECH TIP-OFFS Flo: Whether it’s for you or your partner, it’s time to take back control of fertility. This period tracker is the first app to use artificial intelligence to create accurate menstrual cycle predictions. (Free on the App Store and Google Play)
LEND US YOUR EARS The Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin: A weekly podcast hosted by comedian Paul Gilmartin, featuring interviews with comedians, artists, journalists and more. Each episode explores mental health topics, and features surveys and confessions from listeners. (Listen on mentalpod.com)
PLUGGED-IN Beckie Jane Brown: Beckie
documents her life with depression and trichotillomania. By creating awareness about this lesser-known mental illness, Beckie brings hope to those who are struggling. (Follow Beckie on Instagram: @beckiejbrown) August 2018 • happiful • 37
Over the years itâ€™s been known by many names: shell shock, combat stress reaction, war neurosis. But while many people will associate post-traumatic stress disorder with those at war or witnessing conflict, itâ€™s a condition that can affect anyone. The more we understand about PTSD, the sooner those suffering can receive the help they so desperately need Writing | Stacey Barber
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
t 18 years old, I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was experiencing awful flashbacks, and avoiding anything related to my trauma, which dated back to childhood. The trauma I experienced, though I didn’t understand it at the time, has shaped my life and held me back from doing things due to my fears and anxiety. PTSD can affect people after they’ve experienced a traumatic event – which can be triggered by things such as grief, stress, or something distressing – and may lead to nightmares, flashbacks and severe anxiety. The majority of people associate this disorder with those who’ve served in the army. However, while both men and women can experience PTSD after they have been to war, something a lot of people don’t know is that anyone can suffer with it. Living with PTSD is hard, and can be very debilitating. Some days I’m OK and I can get on with life, but other times I’m left wrapped up in the past trying to make sense of what has happened, and why it did. Flashbacks are the hardest part for me and they feel so real and close; once they have passed I’m left thinking about them obsessively, and reliving those feelings I felt at that time. Because of this, I’m passionate about breaking down the misconceptions surrounding PTSD, which can lead to shame regarding the disorder, and can result in people not speaking out or seeking help. The disorder can be just as scary as the traumatic event itself, and early treatment is key in aiding recovery. Here are six misconceptions around PTSD we want to debunk – along with the truth you need to know:
1 Only people who have been in the army get PTSD
PTSD can affect anyone, man or woman, child or adult. PTSD can be caused by traumatic things in life such as a fire, child abuse, domestic abuse, a robbery, the death of a loved one, or an accident. There are so many reasons why someone could get PTSD and it’s not limited to one profession or environment. Sometimes people may get PTSD after almost being in an accident.
2 People with PTSD are angry and violent Symptoms of PTSD vary between people as no one’s trauma is the same, but most people with PTSD are quite reserved. If they do display anger, it’s not because they are angry as a person, but because of what they have been through or witnessed. Violent outbursts are not because of the person being bad, but more because of what they are dealing with in their heads.
3 PTSD is something you should ‘just get over’
This disorder is very deep-rooted within a sufferer’s mind. Each of us will experience trauma differently in life, and what affects one person may not impact another so severely. People with PTSD know they need to move on from the past, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Professional help is needed to guide the sufferer through the disorder. Flashbacks and nightmares are involuntary, so “just getting over it” isn’t possible. No one would want to keep reliving an awful time, would they?
4 PTSD sufferers can’t live a normal life
Treatment for PTSD helps sufferers to process and resolve their painful memories and feelings. While everyone’s experience will be different, treatments such as EMDR can address the trauma at an unconscious level, while others may find their recovery is an ongoing process, but many people are able to lead normal lives. With the right help To find out more and support, recovery is possible. about PTSD, visit ptsduk.org. If you’d like to speak to a professional 5 Everyone suffers from about what you’re some form of PTSD experiencing, While it’s a sad truth that, in life, visit counsellingmany people will witness or be directory.org.uk victim to some form of trauma, it doesn’t mean that everyone has PTSD. Seeing something traumatic and feeling upset about it doesn’t mean you have PTSD, as there are so many aspects of PTSD beyond the initial experience of having something bad happen to you.
6 PTSD happens right after trauma
PTSD often starts months or even years after the trauma started. People know what they have been through and know it was unpleasant, but the symptoms of PTSD aren’t there yet. Out of the blue nightmares and flashbacks begin, and the person develops a sense of loss. This is why PTSD comes as such a shock for sufferers themselves, because they thought they had moved on. Stacey Barber is a mental health blogger with OCD and PTSD, whose goal is to help, educate and inspire people regarding their own and others’ mental health. Visit fixmeinfortyfive.com to read more from her. August 2018 • happiful • 39
FOR LITTLE ONES
Be inspired to start making positive changes with these helpful and thought-provoking books for all ages
Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
hether you’re an avid or occasional reader, finding a memorable, affecting book can be tricky. I couldn’t tell you half of the books I’ve read in 2018 – not because they were bad, but because, while enjoyable in the moment, they failed to connect
on a deeper level. To help you avoid falling into the same trap, and with the summer holidays looming, we’ve put together a selection of books for all ages, where each one aims to positively affect readers’ day-to-day lives, rather than just entertain – though they’re pretty darn good at doing both.
Yoga Babies by Fearne Cotton If you’ve somehow missed this awesome debut children’s book from Fearne Cotton, it’s time to pick up a copy. Yoga Babies follows yoga-loving tots who relish having fun trying new poses. The book shows children that life can be busy and tricky, but yoga can help them to relax and chill out just about anywhere.
Whether you’re a yogaloving parent who wants to get your kids interested and excited about the practice, or a newbie who wants to find healthy, calming activities to introduce to the whole family, Yoga Babies is a great place to start. Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey, published by Andersen Press
FOR TINY TOTS ABC Mindful Me by Christiane Engel
Helping kids practise their ABCs can become tedious; there are only so many times you can repeat “a is for apple” before your eyes start to glaze over. So what if there was a way to engage both kids and adults, while passing along helpful, healthy ideas? Combining learning the alphabet with how to find peace, happiness, and develop a healthy mind and
body, award-winning authorillustrator Christiane Engel’s latest book in her popular ABC for Me series pairs each letter of the alphabet with a word that teaches children about important mindfulness principles such as empathy, and kindness. With research suggesting mindfulness can help improve children’s concentration, listening skills, and ability to deal with stress, anxiety, and manage their emotions, ABC Mindful Me helps readers understand how mindfulness can directly benefit them and the world around them. Published by Walter Foster Jr
Research suggests mindfulness can help improve children’s concentration, listening skills, and ability to deal with stress, anxiety, and manage their emotions
1 IN 5 KIDS
don’t read over summer Can we change this? Continues >>>
August 2018 • happiful • 41
FOR YOUNG (AND YOUNG AT HEART) ADULTS The Kidult Handbook: The Grown-up’s Guide to Playing Like a Kid by Nicole Booz Adulting can be pretty hard. Have you ever heard of kidulting? It’s a growing movement that involves engaging in childhood activities to relieve stress. From taking part in games from your childhood, to having fun building a fort, The Kidult Handbook has plenty of ideas for indulging your inner child.
Filled with nostalgic childhood activities, with a few grown-up twists, the concept stems from the idea that playing like a child can help adults see the world with fresh eyes. A fun, informative guide to healthy escapism through play, the handbook helps you focus on something creative to relieve stress.
FOR LITTLE BOOKWORMS 50 Ways to Feel Happy by Vanessa King, Val Payne & Peter Harper The first book for kids created
by the movement Action for Happiness, 50 Ways to Feel Happy helps children explore what happiness really means. Packed full of feel-good activities children can try on their own, or with family or friends, each activity relates back to Action for Happiness’s 10 keys to happier living. From doing things for others, to living
mindfully and finding ways to bounce back, this book aims to help children learn about wellbeing, and improve their self-confidence, resilience, and emotional stability, with activities that are colourful, engaging, and fun – but still educational. Illustrated by Celeste Aires Published by QED Publishing
helps you focus on something fun and creative to relieve stress
FOR INBETWEENS AND TEENS No Weigh!! A Teen’s Guide To Positive Body Image, Food, and Emotional Wisdom by Signe Darpinian, Wendy Sterling, Shelly Aggarwal
point to put down their dreams for a better world, and suggests how to make it a reality. While it can be a little bit sweary in places, The Revolution Handbook helps readers communicate feelings in a positive, constructive, colourful way, creating a safe space for them to explore. Published by Poppy Books
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Time to get creative The Revolution Handbook by Alice Skinner
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Published by Adams Media
Body positivity can be a tough sell for adults, much less teens. But developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts, including an adolescent therapist and a dietitian, No Weigh!! provides space and information to help teens learn everything they need to about eating, body positivity, and balanced exercise, with plenty of emotional wisdom too. Unlike other books of a similar vein, No Weigh!! is written inclusively for cis-gender, gender-fluid, and transgender teens, rather than focusing exclusively on young women. Covering everything from food and sleep, to texting, emotions, and exercise, young people (and parents) can expect to be skilfully guided through the potential minefield of issues by science-based, compassionate advice interspersed with gentle humour, and space for Body readers to jot their thoughts down.
FOR TEEN ACTIVISTS
Designed to be written in, filled out, defaced, and used as a thought-provoking starting point, The Revolution Handbook provides an irreverent yet instructive and interactive guide to standing up for what’s right, and political resistance. Created for anyone who has seen the news, hated it, and isn’t sure what to do next, this guided journal gives them a starting
Filled with 160 ideas, with a high focus on unplugged play, each activity includes information on expense, number of people, and if the activity is best done indoors or outside, making it even easier for every budget and comfort level.
FOR INDEPENDENT MIDDLE/LITTLE READERS
The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Great by Sophie Elkan, Laura Chaisty & Dr Maddy Podichetty A positive, empowering guide to puberty, The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Great gets readers to understand and embrace not just the physical, but the emotional changes that have begun (or are just around the corner). Packed with thoughtful advice, facts, and words of wisdom from women who have been there, the book also includes relatable comments, questions (and all-important answers), plus plenty of space to scribble down thoughts and doodle ideas. Covering the basics like spots and periods, through to more
difficult questions about whether looks matter, The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Great provides clear, no-nonsense info about sex, sexuality, and gender. With several writers working on the book, including Sophie, former writer for Teen magazine, Laura, qualified art psychotherapist, and GP Dr Maddy, readers can expect rounded advice, and a friendly, engaging tone tailored to younger readers. Illustrated by Flo Perry, published by Green Tree
FOR ADULTS Let That Sh*t Go by Alyssa Nichols
With 365 prompts and activities to help readers reconnect with old friends, build new relationships, and discover easy ways to deepen the connections with friends, family and even strangers, Connect Every Day provides a year’s worth of ideas on how to build new relationships (something many of us seem to forget how to do as we get older). This simple yet addictive book encourages users to draw, write, create, and try new things.
Describing itself as a “journal for leaving your bullsh*t behind and creating a happy life for yourself ”, Let That Sh*t Go focuses on the idea that harbouring grudges takes a lot of energy that could be used for something else – like the “true bliss [that] can be found in simply not giving a f*ck”. Combining journal activities, inspirations, and profanity-laced words of wisdom, Let That Sh*t Go is filled with charming illustrations, quirky layouts, and a relaxed, relatable style that engages and entertains readers. Focusing on the things that are holding us back, Alyssa Nichols looks at what’s getting in the way every day, as well as in the grander scheme of things.
Published by Chronicle Books
Published by Castle Point Books
Make new friends
Connect Every Day: A Journal
August 2018 • happiful • 43
Opening the Emotional Box
FEED YOUR SOUL
“W hen you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” – Rumi
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Realising that grief isn’t the enemy
After years of hiding her feelings of sadness and loss, Lesley Pyne was close to falling apart – but through therapy and yoga she found the power, strength and determination to transform her life
ere it comes again, my daily weep. I don’t want to cry today. My chest feels very heavy with that all-pervading sadness. I’ve worked hard over the past 14 years to push grief into a box; why can’t I wave a magic wand to keep the lid closed and make it all go away? Then I might at least have some joy in my life.” I wrote those words two years ago when I was at my lowest ebb. I’m childless, an only child, and I’ve lost both parents, and at this point I’d spent 14 years trying to outrun grief. Let’s just say that it wasn’t going well. My parents taught me many wonderful things, but not how to express how I felt. Over time
I learned to take everything I didn’t want to feel out of my head, put it in a box, and close the lid. I promised myself that I’d investigate later but, guess what? I piled more into the box and kept forcing down the lid. Grief from six unsuccessful rounds of IVF – in the box. Grief from losing both parents – in the box. I was very successful at banishing sadness, but I also banished joy, so I was numb, and not feeling much at all. I was struggling to keep it all together, and the lid would come off at unexpected and inopportune moments; I kept snapping at Roger, my husband, I felt sad and listless, and regularly burst into tears. Continues >>>
August 2018 • happiful • 45
Opening the Emotional Box
Lesley’s Story On the outside I was confident, capable Lesley. However, inside I was falling apart. People who loved me told me grief was not an enemy, it was a friend. They told me that I couldn’t outrun it forever; I would have to take my armour off at some point and there was magic in doing so. And still I resisted. Salvation came in an invitation to a workshop based on Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong in March 2016, where I learned that feelings are called feelings because you actually feel them in your body. It was the first time I connected what happened in my body with what was going on in my head. I remember as we worked round the room, talking about grief, I felt a real tension in the top of my head and I wanted to flee. The closer it got to my turn, the stronger this tension became. At that moment I realised, this is what anxiety feels like. For someone who hadn’t connected these particular dots before, this was massive for me. That weekend was the most transformational of my life; starting to touch my feelings was like opening up a new and fascinating world. I realised I needed help to continue my exploration, so I reluctantly started working with a therapist in May 2016. I say reluctantly because it felt like the last resort, and not something I wanted to admit to. But it was one
If my body is telling a story of determination, strength, power, and achievement, why shouldn’t my mind?
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Lesley found the yoga practice yin really helped her to heal
of the best decisions, and has changed me in many wonderful ways. My therapist helped me to open the lid and gently rummage around, and I realised that what was in my box wasn’t as scary as I imagined it to be. She also encouraged me to try new things, one of which was yoga. After a sprained ankle left me unable to move very much in early 2017, I was drawn to yin. Yin is different to most other yoga, as you’re mostly sitting or lying and you stay in your asana/seat/pose for up to 10 minutes. I found something special sitting quietly, stretching my body to its limits, and after a few months a voice inside suggested I have private lessons. My head thought I wanted to learn the seats, but now I realise this voice was my heart calling me to trust myself and my teacher, as it would be the last piece of the jigsaw of my healing. And it was. So much has changed for me in the safe space of my private lessons. I’ve learned to grieve and am now in touch with my emotions. That box, which once held everything I didn’t want to feel outside me has gone forever, and in its place I feel everything inside and I know how to express it on the outside. Each time I let something go, I feel like I’m shedding another layer of the armour that prevents me from being my authentic self. I’ve connected deeply to my body and one seat in particular (called Saddle) acts as a
barometer of what’s going on with me – some days it’s easy and others it’s impossible. It turns out that the meaning of Saddle is “hero”, and a hero (or heroine) goes through challenges, but in the end the only way she can get to where she wants to be, is by changing herself. This is my story. Each time I move into Saddle, I’m aware that I am exposed, laying my heart and vulnerability bare for all to see. I can feel the power and strength in my body, as I connect very deeply with me. Staying there takes everything I’ve learned, and all the courage, strength, and trust I can muster. It’s teaching me that connecting to my heart connects me to my deepest meaning and purpose; it encourages me to be fearless and to realise my potential. What my body can do and how far it can stretch has astounded me. Each week it shows me that it can do more and more, and where my body goes, my mind follows. If my body is telling a story of determination, strength, power, and achievement, why shouldn’t my mind? If the limitations I had about my body no longer apply, what about those other beliefs I had about what I can or can’t achieve? So much has changed for me and I can’t put myself in the shoes of the Lesley who wrote those words two years ago. I’ve learned that you can’t outrun grief, so you might as well work through it on your own terms. By opening myself up to feeling grief, I’ve let so much more happiness and joy into my life. I’ve found many gifts in the pain, and the biggest gift is my true self. I’ve learned to live without all that I’ve lost. I will always miss my parents, and not being able to be a mother caused a deep wound. This used to hurt a lot and make me feel as though I was bobbing around in the sea at the mercy of the waves and currents. Now it no longer hurts, and I feel much more anchored. The story I tell
is of finding happiness and joy and making the most of the gifts that life brings me. I feel incredibly sad when I hear those people who’ve longed for children, yet are unable to have them, say they will never be happy. I know from experience that there are many paths to this place we call childless, and there are many paths out. One of my paths was yoga, and I want others to know that they can find their path to happiness even if their biggest dream didn’t come true. Lesley’s book, ‘Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life’, is published by Make Your Mark Global.
Lesley with her husband Roger
Our Expert Says Grief is a complicated process involving many emotions. Many people, just like Lesley, try to stop feeling in an effort to “cope”, but this often just prolongs the pain. Lesley discovered that healing is actually part of the process, and delaying this can mean it takes us longer to heal. Realising that her mind and body are interconnected allowed Lesley to access her feelings in a safe way. Her story is one of inspiration, that reminds us we should never be afraid to seek help, feel and heal.
Rachel Coffey BA MA NLP Mstr
August 2018 • happiful • 47
Food & Drink
Melissa Hemsley Eat Happy, Waste Nothing & Feel Good
Melissa Hemsley has already produced two cookbooks, presented a Channel 4 cookery show, and launched a cafe at Selfridges with her sister Jasmine. Now, her first solo cookbook Eat Happy is a feast for the eyes and a treat for the taste buds – but it’s also a call to feed yourself well and respect our resources Writing | Lucy Donoughue
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ne of the perks of being a contributing writer for Happiful is the occasional packages containing beautiful books that land on my desk. Melissa Hemsley’s Eat Happy elicited a sigh of pleasure from me from the very first flick through its pages. It feels like a mighty tome, looks utterly gorgeous, and has enough recipes, cooking hints, and tips to keep me going for an infinite amount of mealtimes. Just glancing through her book it’s clear that Melissa has great foodie experience, and obviously knows her flavours. My immediate favourites include spiced lamb in baked aubergine boats, and her anytime blueberry cake. (I’m salivating just writing this.) With more than a decade’s experience in the industry, Melissa is known as one half of the Hemsley Sisters, with their pioneering, healthy home-cooking business Hemsley + Hemsley launching in 2010. However, Eat Happy is very much a personal project for Melissa, who wants this book “to bring the joy back into home cooking, and show us all how satisfying and affordable good food can be”. When we speak, I ask Melissa how she found approaching her first solo book – and her enthusiasm for the project is immediately palpable. “It was very easy to write; it kind of gushed out of me – my friend keeps saying ‘don’t use the word gushed’ but thats what happened,” she laughs. Melissa took a huge amount of inspiration for Eat Happy from the feedback she received on promotional tours for the books she wrote with her sister Jasmine. “I would ask people ‘Which are your favourite recipes?’, or people
Photography | Issy Croker
would tag me on social media after cooking them, and the same dishes were coming up again and again. They were one pot meals, lots of comfort food, quick stuff for families – although it’s not just parents, everyone wants to make something swift. I’m the same; I don’t want lots of washing up at the end!” “We’re all just the same really,” she continues. “Whether we have kids, are single or live in a big flat share, we all just want something tasty, and the simpler the better.” For this reason, all recipes in her book should take no longer than 30 minutes to cook (great) and Melissa promises that you will use no more than two pans or baking trays (even better). She also offers helpful ingredient swaps throughout to cater for vegetarians, and for those moments when you just don’t have every ingredient to hand. And here’s the thing, they are all healthy – although that is a word Melissa is careful to use because of some of the negative connotations around it. Rather than focusing on the healthy label, Melissa insists that taste and value for money are the two elements at the heart of all her recipes. “The recipes are all healthy, but healthy in a way that you are cooking from scratch with lots and lots of vegetables, and a rainbow of colour. I hear the criticism that healthy food is expensive and I think, absolutely not – if you know what to do with the leftovers.” Melissa’s book is full of useful and tasty ways to use any remaining ingredients, from leftover cauliflower leaves, to broccoli stalks, and how to make carrot tops into a delicious pesto. “All these are tips, tricks and techniques that I’ve picked up along the way, not being a trained chef, and what I’ve learnt from my mum, who is a really thrifty person. She’s a Filipino Catholic and we were brought up in Army bases – taught never to waste.”
Melissa’s aim for this book ‘is to bring the joy back into home cooking and show us all how satisfying and affordable good food can be’ Waste is a subject that fires Melissa up and one that she constantly mentions throughout the book, with many pages having notes on how to use up leftover ingredients, and a section devoted to “leftovers and making something out of nothing”. “I used to think that people weren’t open to hearing about food waste. When I would cook, going back about eight years, I would always have two bowls – one for the compost, and one for that last eighth of an onion, or stalks from parsley and half a garlic clove.
“People would ask what I was doing and I would tell them that I’d use them for a soup or a frittata. Although they would think that it was a good thing to do, it didn’t necessarily excite them.” However, Melissa is pleased to see that there has been a change of heart around food waste, and its something that she champions massively. She knows that there’s another side to this too – the financial implications of eating well. She believes that we can minimise the amount of money we waste on food, by respecting and honouring what we have. “When it comes to food waste, who wants to take out the bin more than you need to – and why would you waste money on throwing away quality food?” says Melissa. “From a personal point of view, I spend money on my food – I will buy the very best I can afford, but half of my bill is on bulk ordering beans, lentils and the basics; the cheap stuff it would be impossible to spend a lot of money on.” Continues >>> August 2018 • happiful • 49
Food & Drink
healthy label, and now says, “I cook food that makes me feel good,” fearing that the use of the word healthy puts people off. Melissa is acutely aware of the power of words and, as well as encouraging us all to eat well and happy, she is lending her voice to the conversation around excessive packaging and recycling too. “I’m really hoping that supermarkets hurry up and figure out recycling. I am that person who writes to every supermarket, every single week, telling them that they didn’t need to use such a volume of packaging – why sell me organic carrots in bags that can’t be recycled, if you say you care about the environment?” She is passionate to move this conversation on and engage more people in action. She is keen to pass on the recommendation that everyone should unpack their shopping at the till and leave their packaging behind so that the supermarkets have to deal with it and find a recycling solution sooner rather than later. It’s something we could all do.
Why sell me organic carrots in bags that can’t be recycled, if you say you care about the environment?
She thinks that there’s a misconception about these ingredients. “In my recipes, I try to show how you can still have a lovely fresh avocado and fresh herbs and leaves, but base your meals on the beans and lentils that are so cheap 50 • happiful • August 2018
– but then a lot of people hate them because they’ve had bland food.” But Melissa doesn’t understand why food should ever be bland, and notes that it should never “taste healthy” either. She wants people to focus on how delicious food is, rather than the
Her passion as a catalyst for action doesn’t centre on food and waste only. Shortly after we speak, I see Melissa’s face on Instagram as part of the Head Talks Mental Health Awareness Week #Honestgram campaign (she is an ambassador). The campaign was designed to spark a more honest thread of conversations on social media, and Melissa set the tone by sharing her recent experiences of
L I T T L E C H O C O L AT E P O T S
Extracted from ‘Eat Happy’ by Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £20)
These lovely little chocolate pots are not only rich and smooth, they use just five ingredients and take only five minutes to make. They are perfect for preparing ahead of time as they need to set in the fridge, then all you need to do is pull them out at pudding time and grate over a little chocolate to serve. You can use any type of milk here. Nut milk makes the mixture moussier and lighter. Coconut milk makes it really rich and quite thick but without tasting coconutty. These pots will keep, covered, in the fridge or freezer for a few days. If freezing, allow to defrost for 40 minutes before serving. Serves 4 180ml any milk 140g dark (70%–85%) chocolate, broken into squares 3 tablespoons maple syrup 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract To serve (optional): Sea salt flakes 1 handful of fresh raspberries or cherries, or a mixture
anxiety, stress and exhaustion, ending the post with a prompt for others to share how they really are, to treat themselves with kindness, and to reach out for help. I loved this campaign and I love Melissa’s book. There’s something just so honest and do-able about her approach in Eat Happy, and to life in general it seems – cook from scratch (in less time with less mess), buy the best you can afford, don’t waste food, be good to your body by nourishing it, do your bit to help the environment, and be kind to yourself. We can all get on board with that. ‘Eat Happy’ by Melissa Hemsley, published by Ebury Press, is out now. Follow Melissa on Instagram @melissa.hemsley
• Gently heat the milk in a saucepan for about 45 seconds until hot all the way through. • Place 120g of the chocolate in a high-powered blender or food processor with the maple syrup, egg and vanilla extract. • Very carefully, pour a quarter of the hot milk into the food processor and blend until smooth, then repeat, adding a quarter of the milk at a time, until all the milk is combined and the mixture is silky smooth. (Add the hot milk slowly so that it doesn’t scramble the egg.) • Pour into four small ramekins or glasses and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1.5 hours, or 1 hour in the freezer, to set. • When you’re ready to serve, grate over the remaining dark chocolate or top with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes or a few fresh raspberries or cherries. TIP: If using coconut milk, use the full-fat kind, which tends to separate in the tin. Pour it out, stir and measure out 180ml for this dish, then use the rest in soups or smoothies. August 2018 • happiful • 51
THYROID PROBLEMS Managing the Condition Through Diet with Nutritionist Resource
"Thyroid problems" describes a range of medical conditions associated with the thyroid gland – a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland helps to control the body’s metabolism and the rate at which energy is burned, as well as playing a crucial role in stabilising heart rate and body temperature.
WHAT ARE THYROID DISORDERS? Thyroid disorders are very common and tend to occur predominantly in women, although anybody can be affected. It’s thought that roughly one in 20 people have some kind of thyroid disorder, which may be temporary or permanent. These can range from a harmless goitre (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment, to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in hyperthyroidism – more commonly known as an "overactive thyroid". Symptoms include anxiety, difficulty sleeping, persistent tiredness, sensitivity to heat, swelling in the neck, an irregular or unusually fast heart rate, trembling and weight loss. Alternatively, insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism, also known as "underactive thyroid". Symptoms may include tiredness, weight gain, depression, being sensitive to the cold, muscle aches and dry skin and hair. If you think you may have a thyroid problem, visit your GP. If they suspect a thyroid disorder, they may refer you for a blood test to check your hormone levels. The different levels of hormones within the blood may also help your doctor to determine the cause of your thyroid problem.
TREATING THYROID PROBLEMS Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated; the majority of thyroid disorders are treated with daily medication or surgery. A tailored diet can’t cure thyroid problems but eating a well-balanced diet can improve your overall health, including your thyroid health. The type of thyroid diet that will be recommended will depend on the nature of your condition (underactive or overactive). It will typically involve a variety of foods to ensure you get plenty of nutrients and maintain a healthy weight.
WHY CONTACT A NUTRITIONIST? Seeking help from a nutrition professional can help you make the right food choices for particular thyroid problems. They will be able to devise a tailor-made diet plan to meet your specific needs and advise on whether or not you need supplements, so as to not interfere with thyroid medication. Remember, taking care of your diet is far more complex than calories in and out. You need to nourish – not neglect – yourself, to maintain optimum health. A nutrition professional can help you to do this. The Internet can contain conflicting information relating to diet and medical conditions – and not everyone who claims they can help you will be appropriately qualified. We understand the value of knowing your nutrition professional is trained and experienced – which is why we have a thorough approvals policy in place for each of our professionals. Brought to you by:
SEARCH Head to nutritionist-resource.org.uk and enter your postcode to see a list of nutrition professionals in your local area.
FIND Browse through the listed professionals to find the right match for you. Look for specialist areas covered by each professional on their profile.
CONNECT With the click of a button, you can connect with your chosen nutrition professional. Nutritionist Resource is free to use and there are no hidden costs.
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Food & Drink
WE’RE NUTS ABOUT THESE SAVVY SUMMER SNACKS
Whatever the day brings, we’ve got you covered with healthy snacks to keep hunger at bay anywhere, at any time – whether out exploring on a day-trip, or just making it through the working day at your desk! Snaccident (noun) Eating an entire box/bag of something by mistake
hen it comes to eating well, it’s often the nibbles in between meals that I find most difficult. Of course, sometimes a smooth bar of chocolate with a warm cup of gard Hog n Elle Writing | tea is just what you need after a tough meeting. But other times, when you want something more fresh, ideas come up short. The perfect snack should be what you want and need at that moment; satisfying, but simple. When you hit that 3pm slump, it can feel as though you need something to eat immediately, and working in an office can mean a limited choice – a biscuit jar, cakes for birthdays, or perhaps a cafe or vending machine. A biscuit may give you the energy boost you want, but there are other options – options that are cheaper and far healthier. And it’s not just office workers who need that mid-morning, or mid-afternoon snack. Busy parents who barely have a chance to sit down, teachers, service workers, or people setting out on an adventure for the weekend. All of us need to eat, and regular meals are said to be essential in keeping us energised and feeling great. So, what kind of things are easy to make and affordable, all the while still being delicious? Well, get your Tupperware ready, as we’ve got some of our favourite snacking options here, perfect for anyone, at any time, anywhere. For nutritional support, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk
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Fruit and Nut Granola Bars Makes 12 small bars Ingredients ½ cup sunflower seeds ½ cup (60g) chopped nuts (we like a pecan and almond mix) ½ cup (70g) oats ¼ cup (40g) dried cranberries ¼ cup (40g) raisins 3 tbsp coconut flakes 1 tsp chia seeds 2 tbsp chocolate chips Pinch of sea salt 1 tsp cinnamon 4 tbsp honey or maple syrup 3 tbsp nut butter ½ tsp vanilla extract Method • In a large mixing bowl, combine the seeds, nuts, oats, dried fruit, coconut, chocolate chips, cinnamon and salt. • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the honey, nut butter and vanilla extract. When smooth, pour over the dry ingredients and mix to combine. The mixture should become deliciously sticky. • Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin and flatten with a spatula – press firmly to ensure the bars are tightly packed! • Once even, pop in the fridge or freezer until the mixture is hard enough to cut. • Slice into 12 bars. Grab one to enjoy with your freshly made cup of tea, and store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge. For an extra indulgence, melt a little chocolate to drizzle over the finished bars and sprinkle with a pinch more salt. Delicious!
Simple Snacking Because not all recipes require multiple ingredients… • Sliced apple and nut butter: a firm favourite. • Fresh mango and lime: the lime juice cuts through the sweet mango perfectly! • Vegetable crudites and homemade hummus: carrot sticks and baby corn, you can’t beat them!
Our Nutritionist Says… I really like this granola bar recipe. It’s so important to get variety within our diet, and this recipe certainly delivers! Although it may seem like a lot of dried fruit, by balancing it out with more than double the amount of nuts and seeds, the sugar won’t affect our blood sugar levels in the way a bar of chocolate would. Cinnamon is also fantastic for supporting stable blood sugar, while oats provide slow release energy and are a great source of fibre, essential for gut health. The chia seeds are a good source of omega-3, and provide a heavy protein hit, making this a really filling and satisfying snack. Almonds are a great source of zinc, and the variety of nuts, seeds and oats gives us B vitamins, essential for energy. Sliced apple and nut butter is a nice, filling snack which is now so widely available that you can even keep a jar or sachet of nut butter in your bag. Go for a red apple to take advantage of the variety of nutrients we get from eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Fresh mango and lime is a tasty snack, but would be better if balanced out with some natural yoghurt to make it more filling. Even adding some fresh berries, high in antioxidants, would ramp up the nutrient content. Vegetable crudites and homemade hummus is a perfectly balanced snack which will keep your blood sugar stable and see you through to your next meal. This is a really easy way to get a wider variety of vegetables into your diet. Amy Prior is a fully qualified and registered nutritional practitioner. Specialising in women and children’s health, and weight loss, Amy is passionate about helping clients improve their relationship with food, as well as helping busy clients to eat well easily. To find out more about Amy, visit clearnutrition.co.uk
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Food & Drink
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
It affects thousands of women, but often goes undiagnosed. So what is PCOS? What are its symptoms and causes? And most importantly, what can be done to treat it? Here, award-winning nutritionist and women’s health specialist Nicki Williams gives Happiful readers the expert lowdown 56 • happiful • August 2018
o you have – or know someone who has – polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Unfortunately, the odds are that you do, given that it’s a condition affecting an estimated 4–12% of reproductive-age women. And it can be serious. But the good news is that the illness can be managed. Here, we cover the essential information you need to know about the condition, and what you can do about it.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can vary for each person, but they generally fall into three categories: 1. Excess androgens – signs include acne, oily skin, excess facial and body hair, and hair loss. 2. Menstrual irregularities, such as missing or irregular periods, infertility, or multiple cysts on the ovaries. 3. Metabolic issues and weight gain, including blood-sugar swings, insulin resistance, and obesity. As well as these distressing symptoms, if left untreated long-term PCOS can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and endometrial cancer.
The symptoms of PCOS are complex and multifactorial, and can’t be generalised. Each woman with the condition could have many of the symptoms, or just a few. So here we dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding the condition: 1. You don’t need cysts on your ovaries (it really should be re-named!) 2. Y ou certainly don’t have to be overweight either. Almost half of PCOS sufferers are of an average weight. 3. Around 80% of women with high androgens have PCOS, but not all those with PCOS do. 4. Lifestyle factors – such as stress, poor diet, and a lack of regular exercise – can be to blame in many cases.
How is it diagnosed?
Not very well it seems! The broad definition, and multiple symptoms, can lead to misdiagnosis and the root cause of the condition (such as inflammation, or insulin resistance) is not investigated. Some PCOS organisations estimate that around 50% of women who have PCOS are currently undiagnosed. It’s not tested for routinely, so tends to be diagnosed only if you are having trouble getting pregnant, have irregular periods, or have had hormone tests done for facial hair or male pattern baldness. Ultrasound is often used to identify cysts on the ovaries caused by undeveloped follicles that have not matured enough at the time of ovulation to allow the egg to break through. Although PCOS is named after these cysts, they are not actually a prerequisite for a diagnosis of PCOS, as cysts can come and go, ovulation can be missed, and equally you may have cysts showing up but be negative for PCOS, as your ovaries change every month. Blood tests might look for pituitary hormones like FSH and LH, as well as progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone, blood-sugar markers, and thyroid hormones.
Standard medical treatment for PCOS includes the use of oral contraceptives, insulin sensitising medications (such as Metformin), and fertility drugs. But while there certainly is a genetic component that increases one’s risk of the syndrome, PCOS is significantly affected by lifestyle factors – including diet, exercise, environmental toxins, and stress. So there are many effective natural treatments depending on the root cause, which can vary for each woman. Continues >>>
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Food & Drink
The root causes of PCOS
Insulin resistance and/or weight gain Too much sugar and too many refined carbs in your diet can, over the long term, cause the insulin receptors in your cells to shut down, allowing higher levels of insulin to be released by the pancreas. This is the most common cause of PCOS, as high levels of insulin can interfere with ovulation and stimulate excess androgens. It’s common to be overweight (but not always!) – fat tissue produces an enzyme called aromatase, which increases androgens, so the more overweight you are, the more testosterone and androgens you are likely to be producing. What are the tell-tale signs? –Y ou’ve been told you’re pre-diabetic, or your fasting glucose or HbA1c is high, or your LH is high. – Your waist is larger than your hips. –Y ou struggle with appetite control, sugar or carb cravings and/or losing weight. What to do? • Switch to a low-sugar, low glycemic-load diet, including protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs. • Try overnight fasting – a fast between dinner and breakfast of 12–16 hours has shown to help with insulin sensitivity and weight loss. • Regular exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity. • Herbal support can be helpful (including Agnus Castus, Berberine and Inositol), but get advice from a qualified herbalist or nutritional therapist.
Stress Stress has a huge role to play in PCOS – which could be why we are seeing an increase. When we are constantly in “fight or flight” mode, the body is not going to prioritise your reproductive hormones – the last thing the body wants is to conceive in a stressful world! So excess stress hormones tend to suppress the production of oestrogen and progesterone, and therefore interfere with ovulation. Cortisol – the main stress hormone – also increases insulin (see above). What are the tell-tale signs? – You feel overwhelmed and find it hard to switch off. – You get anxious or find it hard to sleep. What to do? • Prioritise at least 10 minutes a day of stress management – try mindfulness, deep breathing, a relaxing bath, reading, or listening to music. • Supplements can help support the adrenal system – these include magnesium and vitamin C.
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Inflammation (especially in your gut!) Inflammation damages your hormone receptors and suppresses ovulation. If you have any gut issues you may have inflammation happening, so sorting out your digestive health may help with your PCOS. What are the tell-tale signs? – You have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, gas, pain, nausea, and reflux. – You have frequent infections, headaches, sinus issues, joint pain, or skin issues such as eczema or psoriasis. What to do? • Eliminate potential food intolerances – such as gluten, or dairy – for at least four weeks. • Have a stool test done to check for underlying infections, and work with a qualified health practitioner to rebalance the gut and reduce inflammation. • Reduce exposure to environmental toxins that could be causing inflammation – such as processed foods, BPA in plastics, pesticides on non-organic produce, and synthetic chemicals in cleaning, laundry and personal care products.
If left untreated, PCOS can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and cancer
Low thyroid hormone If you don’t have enough active thyroid hormone, your ovaries might not have the energy they need to ovulate.
What are the tell-tale signs? – Low thyroid symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain fog, hair loss, PMS, low libido, feeling cold, dry or puffy skin, constipation and more. – If you have a family history of thyroid issues, or autoimmune conditions, you may be more at risk. What to do? • Get a proper thyroid test done (to check TSH, T4, T3 and TPO antibodies). • Ensure you are getting the right nutrients for your thyroid (see right).
Nutrient deficiencies Specific nutrients are needed by your ovaries (and thyroid) to function properly. These include iodine, selenium, iron, vitamin D and zinc, and deficiencies can interfere with ovulation. What to do? • Supplement with a good multivitamin which includes the active forms of the nutrients your ovaries need. • Take vitamin D3 with K2 throughout the winter, if you live in the northern hemisphere, or if you don’t get enough exposure to direct sunlight without sunscreen. • Do check with your doctor before taking any new supplements if you are on any medications, or have other health conditions.
Helpful foods for PCOS •L ow GL carbs – whole grains, brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice pasta, and soba noodles. •H ealthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and oily fish. •O rganic protein – meat, fish, seafood, full-fat dairy (if not eliminating), pulses and legumes. •V egetables – all kinds, all colours, and organic where possible! •C innamon – helps with balancing blood sugar. • Turmeric – helps to fight inflammation. Nicki Williams is an award-winning nutritionist, author, speaker, and a leading expert in women’s health and hormones. She is the founder of Happy Hormones for Life, and recently published her first book, ‘It’s Not You, It’s Your Hormones’ (Practical Inspiration Publishing, £14.99). Visit happyhormonesforlife.com to find out more and to receive help in identifying and addressing the root cause of your PCOS.
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Photography | Elle Narbrook Photography
YOGA QUOTA the charity bringing yoga to the masses
So you think yoga is only for the privileged few, those perfect, beautiful people with loads of money to spare? It’s time to think again
f you search #yoga on Instagram, you’ll likely be met with a sea of thin, bendy women contorting themselves into impressive poses. You may also see 50 shades of green (juice), 20 variants of avocado on toast, and a stunning beach backdrop or two. For some, this is what the yoga lifestyle looks like. For most of us though, it’s not, and these perfectly crafted images can actually do a disservice to yoga. They give it a taint of inaccessibility – making yoga look like a practice only the privileged can enjoy.
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Writing | Kat Nicholls
This is something the people at charity Yoga Quota (YQ) are keen to address. They know the incredible benefits yoga can bring, both physically and mentally, helping to cultivate self-awareness, headspace and mindfulness. They know the healing quality a supported yoga practice can offer to those in need. They also know yoga classes aren’t cheap, which feeds into the accessibility problem simmering beneath the surface of the yoga industry; many of those who would benefit most from the practice simply can’t afford classes.
Founded in 2014 with a vision to make yoga accessible to vulnerable groups, YQ partnered with charities to hold one free class for every 50 people who pay for one through YQ. Based in Oxford, its network extends across the country as yoga teacher badgeholders in the UK are committed to teaching four free charity classes each year (accessing funding through YQ). To find out more about YQ’s work, and chat all things yoga and inclusivity, I caught up with the charity’s CEO, Harriet McAtee.
Harriet, tell us about your personal journey with yoga! I’ve been practising yoga since I was an uncoordinated 13-year-old. I had done lots of dance, gymnastics and martial arts as a kid, but wouldn’t have described myself as physical or athletic. Yoga really appealed to me because it’s non-competitive, and I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone else. I got really serious about yoga when I was dealing with the stress of university though. During my Masters I was practising every day, and I had this profound realisation that I just wasn’t stressed. I felt calm and capable – it was surreal! I knew that I wanted to help others create space for calm and happiness in their lives, too. And how did you discover Yoga Quota? I’m originally from Brisbane, Australia, and Yoga Quota became my community when I first moved to Oxford in November 2015. Our community is like no other – I felt welcome and accepted instantly. At the time we moved I was recovering from a shoulder injury, which meant I was taking a break from teaching. When I
was eventually ready to teach again, it was an easy decision to do so for YQ. Can you tell us about the people who come to Yoga Quota’s free classes? We work with such an amazing and diverse group of charities. They’re based all around the UK, and support people with mental health conditions, cancer, homelessness, survivors of domestic and sexual violence, refugees and vulnerable migrants, people recovering from addiction, young people with disabilities – the list goes on. Our charity clients come from all walks of life, and the feedback we get from our teachers consistently tells us that our charity classes are their favourite to teach! We’re always looking to build relationships with new charity partners – yoga is such a fantastic way to support people and nourish communities, and we want to make it as accessible as possible. What is it about yoga that you think is so beneficial? I truly believe that there is a yoga practice to suit every body – the benefits aren’t limited to
Science is starting to catch up with yoga, and there are oodles of studies demonstrating the positive physiological and psychological benefits spaghetti-noodle yogis who can tie themselves in knots. The personal nature of yoga is part of what makes it so beneficial. It’s time that you’re dedicating to get to know yourself, to help you understand what’s going on with your body, and eventually your mind as well. Thankfully, science is starting to catch up with yoga, and there are oodles of studies demonstrating the positive physiological and psychological benefits. What is it that holds some of us back from trying yoga? I think fear is a big reason people hold themselves back: fear that they’re not “flexible enough” (saying you’re too inflexible for yoga is like saying you’re too dirty Continues >>>
What’s the quota? 2016: 172 charity classes 2017: 389 charity classes 2018: aiming for more than 500
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An exercise in mindfulness
Take a few minutes for yourself to relax, unwind and find these 20 types of complementary therapies in the grid. If youâ€™re interested in finding out more, and discovering a therapist in your local area, head to Therapy Directory and start your journey h y o g g h i q n a t t s p s t h t c m o n i l y o g e b y b n h e t t
p t l i m o a c r y h t a p o e t s o u s t c a h a w t e o a b e s r i
a r o m a t h e r a p j b e o y o a g t h e e g a s s a m t o n o j a s a m r e f l e x h i m f l e x n d t a o t x j h a m i l a y q k m f g q h a p p u o s p o r h f a b o r q c h i r o p o d y v o g t a c h i r p d e u s o n g e r a u a d o x t r e i k i k i a b s c e s d o p i t o r u r e b t t therapy-directory.org.uk h y o j l v e u s p o r t s h a p p i f u l m a g t m e t o c h n y g e u p p i n g y h h r r i s e v o l t g n i v t p p e d a j i a x d n m l a p s e t a l i j i s o j h i c u l t f s r o h a p p i w i h u a g q u e c d a c t u b h u i y t p e s e t u r x o y f r s e a l b i g l h e a o f r b a l i s m r t s h s f o l f o e y o f f y p g u v d h q e r t y t a c u p u n c t u
y w f q d i e i t s o k s r t b r o k l u o l o g y e s t f g e x p s a e o l k s e c a r m y s r d r k g s e p a c i u e l u y a s e p f c o n s o h t a x d i v y e o c l h r s j g u i a m i u t n n p w o s s k g p o t n p e v i h h x o r e o w e f t e n l l r i h t h e r a p y c y o u p d w h s a v y n a i h c e d m e r a s n o y e o p r a w n b p l p b e y e r d g t h o s a h e n t g i c o t h r a w t e c r f t l i o u k c b l c u a l t t i i a t s u b r d k i e e h t i a k a j e o r e c p s t i
Acupressure Acupuncture Aromatherapy Ayurveda Chiropody Chiropractic Cupping Ear candling EFT Herbalism Massage Naturopathy Osteopathy Physiotherapy Pilates ReďŹ‚exology Reiki Shiatsu Sports Therapy Yoga
Which complementary therapy is right for you? Find out at:
to take a shower); fear that they’re going to be the only one in the room not doing a perfect split (I can’t do a split!); fear of doing something new; fear of failure (you can’t fail at yoga, I promise). I wish more people felt that yoga was something accessible to them, that the culture of modern yoga was more inclusive. Do you think there’s more the yoga industry (and wellness industry in general) can do to be more inclusive? Oh boy, 1,000%! This is a conversation that I have on nearly a daily basis, with my teachers, students, teacher trainees, and charities. Not only is yoga almost prohibitively expensive for most people, there’s also a perception that you need to look a certain way, wear certain clothes, use a certain yoga mat, have a certain snack afterwards, and that it should all be documented on Instagram. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this in itself, but when it prevents someone from thinking that yoga could be for them, I get really frustrated. I want to see the yoga and wellness industry celebrating diversity, difference and the experiences of everybody.
than doubled to 389. In 2018 I’m hopeful that we’ll break 500 charity classes, which would be an amazing achievement! We have more than 95 teachers signed up as badgeholders, each has committed to teach charity classes in their local area. As someone who knows and loves what yoga has to offer, it’s incredibly refreshing to see the work YQ is doing to make it more accessible. Just following the organisation on social media shows its commitment – from diverse body types in its imagery, to blogs explaining how to make certain yoga positions more accessible. At Happiful, we’re excited to see what Yoga Quota will achieve in the years to come. We’re hopeful that the effect it is having will ripple through the rest of the industry, helping more of us see the benefits yoga has to offer, regardless of our background or body type. Visit yogaquota.com to find out more about the charity’s work, or to get involved yourself!
The personal nature of yoga is part of what makes it so beneficial. It’s time that you’re dedicating to get to know yourself
How do you think we can all help make this happen? Yoga Quota achieves this through education and outreach: by breaking down some of the smoke and mirrors that have been built up around modern yoga. By showing that there are options for everyone, there’s no “right way” to practice, and that there are teachers who celebrate uniqueness. Our free charity classes, our blog, the culture we create at our studio, and also our amazing trainee teachers are all facets of how we make yoga more inclusive and accessible. What impact has Yoga Quota had so far? In 2016, we taught 172 charity classes, and in 2017 that number more
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Chloe Madeley: Addressing Anxiety
Happy Exercising The Right To Be
When fitness expert Chloe Madeley began exercising to heal her anxiety naturally, she could never have dreamed of where her newfound strength would take her… Writing | Gemma Calvert Photography | Sam Riley
s the daughter of TV presenting royalty Richard and Judy, Chloe Madeley was once – in her own words – heading “by default” towards a big job on the small screen. First a runner, then a senior researcher, Chloe bagged a few “novelty gigs” in front of the lens as a roaming reporter on her parents’ daytime programme, before landing her big primetime break, competing in the 2011 series of Dancing On Ice. But one month in, as she prepared to perform in front of 10 million viewers with her pro-skater partner Michael Zenezini, Chloe, 31, experienced a panic attack – her very first – and in an instant, the course of her life changed. “I was in a total haze during the performance, then went backstage and had a complete meltdown,” she recalls. “Thank God Denise Welch [a fellow
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contestant], who has a history of anxiety and panic attacks, was there. She said: ‘Oh my God, you’re having an actual panic attack.’ “That’s when it dawned on me that I was suffering from quite debilitating anxiety but, when I thought back, I had been my whole life, from childhood. For example, I was really bad at maths and would have minor but very real anxiety attacks before lessons – increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and panic. I didn’t realise what I’d been feeling until I started Dancing On Ice. I’m not a performer in any way, shape or form, and that was the spark for me. All of a sudden anxiety flipped into full-on panic attacks.” Chloe now believes her anxiety is “probably” rooted in genetics. “My mum [Judy Finnigan, 70] has suffered with anxiety and depression her whole life and I didn’t know this until it started to hit me,” Chloe explains. “She told me that in her early TV days, every day for over a year, she would get so anxious before she had to go on air that she would vomit.” To combat her own symptoms and continue performing, Chloe sought cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with former resident This Morning psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud, and his expertise, specifically breathing techniques and a clear scientific explanation about why the attacks were happening, saw her through to the Dancing On Ice final in which she finished third. Yet just over a year later, in the midst of a “horrible” break-up, confused about the direction of her career and partying hard in a misguided bid to heal her broken heart, Chloe “unravelled” again. “In a practical sense, CBT helped me to do a live ice dance on national TV, but when it came to my first real heartbreak, no amount of CBT was going to help me,” she admits. “Studies have been done on the brain, which show that the same areas react to a really bad break-up as when you pull a substance abuser off their substance. There’s the same drop in hormones. I was in a hole and couldn’t pick myself up.
“It got so debilitating that I stopped sleeping and eating. I was going out all the time. I wanted to be around people and couldn’t be alone. I was going out three or four nights a week. I’ve always been a homebody and that’s quite reflective in how uncomfortable I was in my own skin.” On the advice of her GP, Chloe began exercising to help ease the anxiety, first by running three times a week and later, after starting a new relationship with actorturned-personal trainer Danny Young, she started heavy weight-training in the gym. The latter had a transformative impact on her mental health. “What I learned to do is incredibly good for anxiety –the methodical movement of training, the very visual results, developing physical strength and also being consistent and committed to something,” she explains.
I am not a performer in any way, shape or form, and that was the spark for me. All of a sudden anxiety flipped into full-on panic attacks “Getting up every morning to go to the gym is part of my routine. Even if it happens at 5.30am, it’s happening. I don’t wake up and have to convince myself to go to the gym because it’s so pivotal to my career and happiness.” Discovering a career ambition in fitness also contributed hugely to Chloe’s inner balance. “It sounds dramatic and ridiculous, but everything changed with my first weighted squat,” she says. “I thought: ‘This is what I want to do.’” Chloe swiftly qualified as a personal trainer, gym instructor and nutritionist, and accumulated a full quota of clients. In 2013, she launched her exercise and nutrition advice website, Continues >>>
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Chloe Madeley: Addressing Anxiety
Fitness Fondue, and is now a revered fitness guru, adept at shredding fat and building muscle without using pricey gym equipment. As well as 183,000 Instagram followers, Chloe has developed three best-selling fitness apps and last December published her debut book, The 4-Week Body Blitz. Her next plan, The Fat Loss Blitz, is due for release later this year. Chloe Madeley’s fitness empire is ever expanding.
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Her own six-times-a-week commitment to exercise and strict eating plan is as much about achieving results as staying in the driving seat of her life. “When things started to snowball, it was very much because I was losing control. I’m aware that this is a natural part of life, that you can’t always be in control but now, if something does f**k up, there are so many structured
elements to my life that I don’t think it would ever get that bad again,” explains Chloe, adding that talking therapy is another essential part of the framework. Regular sessions with three counsellors over the past “four or five years” have enhanced her – “I feel more sure of myself, I’m easier on myself and I have a much better understanding of why my reactions are the way they are” – and “absolutely” bettered her threeyear relationship with English rugby ace James Haskell, 33, by removing the “pressure” on him to “fix” her. The couple, who live in Northampton, got engaged in April during a romantic trip to Paris – Chloe’s first visit to the French capital – after James traditionally asked her dad Richard, 62, for his permission to pop the question. “James did everything perfectly, I couldn’t have dreamt up a better proposal,” smiles Chloe. “We were walking through the Jardin Des Tuileries towards the Louvre, and he stopped and started kissing me. He started saying some very special things to me, and I was just listening, thinking how lucky I was. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him – I was so shocked I couldn’t speak!” On the subject of nuptials, shortly after her interview with Happiful, Chloe was labelled the “Royal Wedding Rule Breaker” after wearing a strappy dusty pink dress to Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle. It’s not the first time Chloe has faced criticism for her appearance though. Her perpetual upload of body-baring gym selfies to social media regularly divides the nation, with many applauding her physique and others lamenting her for being too skinny, too muscular or too gym-obsessed. “When you’re doing something that you genuinely love and truly have an ego about – I truly think I’m f**king good at my job, what I’m doing for myself and then in a professional
It sounds dramatic and ridiculous, but everything changed with my first weighted squat sense in terms of what I’m doing for other people – I swear the criticism doesn’t touch me at all,” says Chloe.
“If someone says to me ‘You look too skinny,’ I think: ‘Good, all those hours on the treadmill when I’m trying to shed fat for my next shoot are working.’ If someone says ‘You look too muscly,’ I think: ‘Good, all those hours in the gym lifting weights are working.’ And if someone says ‘You’re obsessed with the body,’ I think: ‘Good’ because I’m trying deliberately to shift all perceptions of me away from being
Richard and Judy’s daughter, and onto being a professional who works on the body. So it’s working!” Strong on the outside and inside too. Chloe Madeley has finally found her happy place. ‘The 4-Week Body Blitz’ by Chloe Madeley (£14.99, Transworld) is out now. Follow Chloe on Instagram @madeleychloe
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Fighting for an Answer
“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Walk beside me; just be my friend.” – Albert Camus
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Photography | Joseph Pearson
JUST BE THERE
One of Fifteen Since 2006, Kevin O’Neil has endured excruciating chronic pain, but struggled to get a diagnosis. He persevered and discovered he had a tumour on his spine – news that he actually found to be a relief; he finally had an answer. After years of treatment for both depression and multiple tumours, one of which is so rare that only 15 people in the world have it, Kevin is focusing on the positives in life
emembering significant dates like birthdays or anniversaries, as my wife Kirsty will testify, has never been something I’ve been good at. That’s not down to ill health – it’s just how I’ve always been. But there are two dates that I’ll never forget: Wednesday 7 October 2015 is the day the NHS saved my life by removing a 10lb (4.5kg) tumour from my back. The second date, Saturday 7 November 2015, is the day I learned how rare my illness is. On this day, I was told I am only one of 15 people worldwide diagnosed with Malignant Myopericytoma. My chronic pain began in 2006, and for three and a half years I was constantly at my local medical centre in Fife. But despite numerous investigative procedures, many times Kirsty would have to call for an ambulance due to my extreme, unexplained pain.
It didn’t help that during this period, I was being misdiagnosed. In January 2007, I was told that I had problems with my liver, so the majority of procedures were based around this. Then, a CT scan and two MRI scans later, in 2010 I was told I had a “paraspinal” tumour. In the past, I’d had some health professionals ask if the pain could be “psychological” and “was it all in my head”? So while some people will find it strange, I can remember smiling when I received the news. Kirsty was beside me and I finally knew what was wrong – those were reasons to smile. In January 2011, I had surgery to remove the tumour; a thoracotomy, which lasted nine hours. My surgeon told me the tumour was roughly the size of an orange. When it was removed it “collapsed” due to several cuts and tears, and it had been these cuts causing my extreme pain when they “bled” into my system. Continues >>>
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Fighting for an Answer
To date, I’ve had five major operations. The second was in October 2011, due to a re-occurrence of the tumour, when I had several small bones removed from my spine in order for the surgical team to fully remove it. A titanium plate now holds my spine together. Then in July 2014, I had surgery to realign the plate after it slipped on the T5 & T6 vertebraes. I had a further two operations, including one on a large haematoma in February 2016. But the big one was my memorable date: Wednesday 7 October 2015. This was when I had “life-saving surgery” to remove another massive tumour. Originating on the right side of my chest wall, over a roughly 12-week period, the tumour grew so much and so fast that it ended up pushing on my shoulder blade. “It’s shaped like a dinner plate Kevin,” my oncologist said. I would often laugh to Kirsty, family and friends: “Dinner plate? More the size of a f**king casserole dish!” The surgery lasted 12 hours, and to take out the tumour, the majority of the rib cage on the right side of my body had to be removed, along with a large part of my right shoulder blade. The surgery also included a rebuild of my chest. I spent two and a half days in a medically-induced coma in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and staff were concerned that my right arm might be paralysed. Thankfully that’s not the case, but I do have limited use of my right arm.
I am only one of 15 people worldwide diagnosed with Malignant Myopericytoma
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One morning, the doctors told me the tumour weighed 10lb and was being examined in the pathology lab. Prior to surgery, I’d given permission for the medical photographer to take pictures, but when I first saw the images I could scarcely believe what I was seeing; the tumour was massive. It was weeks later – 7 November 2015 – before I would hear the results. The oncologist rang to explain the tumour was something that the pathologists hadn’t seen before. They sent it to specialists in Glasgow and London, before it finally arrived in the US, and was diagnosed as a Malignant Myopericytoma. I was told that it was exceptionally rare. So rare, in fact, that I was only one of 15 people in the world with this condition. I just couldn’t take this news in. At the time I was working as an official for the public sector trade union, Unison. My sick record was, as you might imagine, poor. Between the first operation and my fifth one, I was also diagnosed with depression. I can remember thinking: “Great, what bloody next?” I am quite open when it comes to me talking about my general health and wellbeing, but I wanted this kept between family and friends. This was nothing to do with the stigma around
Photography | Kevin: Kirsty O’Neil, Tumour: NHS Lothian, Marilion: Mark Kennedy
Kevin meeting his favourite band, Marillion
mental health, it was just I already had so much going on with my health, I didn’t want to discuss it. I’d say, all things considered, both Kirsty and I took the news about how rare my tumour was pretty well. My way of coping was to focus on the positives and realise I am still living, and I’m still here for Kirsty and our son Nathan. It was a few weeks after that phone call that I thought about starting a campaign to find the 14 other people. One of Fifteen is an online forum where we can speak to each other and share how to cope with the pain. It’s also a way for me to thank the NHS for saving my life, and highlight how great they’ve been with dealing with both the physical side and mental side of my illness. My favourite rock band, Marillion, have also really supported me with this campaign, which means so much to me since I’ve been a fan of theirs since I was 12! NHS Fife have been fantastic in supporting my depression, with a mental health Community Practice Nurse (CPN), Wendy, visting me roughly every four weeks. I feel really positive after seeing her. I’ve also had excellent support from the Scottish Association for Mental Health, and have agreed to be a volunteer with their peer support service soon, which I’m really looking forward to. These days, when people ask how I’m doing, I explain that I deal with severe chronic pain 24/7 so some days are better than others, but then I can have a “pain flare-up”. My family have been affected in many ways, with Kirsty altering her work-life balance in order to support my care. At times, she is the only one who understands my level of pain, and we’ve become stronger as a couple because of this. We also wouldn’t be where we are without the support of both our families, who have pushed me to keep fighting.
Despite being only four, Nathan has adapted really well to seeing the countless times I’ve been hospitalised; he understands the difference between being sick and daddy’s illness, and makes us extremely proud. I’ve been medically retired since October 2015 – I was 46 at the time. Kirsty has dropped hours at her work to look after me and Nathan, as I am so restricted in what I can do. I love her so much and I can never thank her enough for what she does for us. I do not know where she finds her strength. I will also never be able to thank NHS Fife and NHS Lothian enough, for keeping me living. To hear more about Kevin’s One of Fifteen campaign, check out his blog at oneoffifteen.com
Our Expert Says Despite life-saving surgery, and ongoing chronic pain, Kevin’s managed to remain positive by utilising the support networks around him – the NHS, family, and friends. Reaching out to the other 15 people with this rare tumour was a beneficial step. Talking to others going through a similar experience can really help, and through these constructive outlets, Kevin was able to acknowledge his feelings, while giving something back to those around him – a model that can work for us all.
Graeme Orr MBACP (reg) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor
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the face of fashion Photography, Moyo Creative | MUA, Paula Barjau & Emily Bobczenok
While there was a time when we expected to see only one type of body strutting down the runway, more and more of today’s designers have their fingers on the pulse of the long-overdue movement for greater representation and diversity. Here we take a look at one such brand, Rebecca Violette: the designer with a difference
ebecca Violette, with her expressive, emotive but wearable range, is a designer hoping to challenge our perceptions of visual difference, and
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Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
empower individuals to celebrate who they are through fashion. Launched on 18 June 2018, the brand Rebecca Violette is a fresh exhibition of the sweet spot between
artwork and wearability. Using a range of textile techniques to capture the huge diversity of our skin and bodies, Rebecca’s designs are a bright, bold celebration of our differences.
From scrubs to sun-dresses What do Coco Chanel, Miuccia Prada and Rebecca Violette all have in common? Answer: their dayjobs informed their art. Coco was a cabaret singer, Miuccia a mime artist, and Rebecca is a doctor with a specific interest in skin. “Being a clinician sowed the seed for the concept,” says Rebecca. “From learning the science underpinning skin conditions, to an appreciation of individual experiences, it’s given me a unique perspective when creating the designs, as a doctor and a creative.” Rebecca’s motivation for becoming a medical professional and a fashion designer come from the same place. Whether it’s helping the individuals she attends to every day, or joining broader conversations that propel the shift in societal values, Rebecca is driven by a desire to make a positive impact on the world around her. The drawing board “I’ve always been interested in the overlap between art and anatomy,” says Rebecca, who first began making clothes as a hobby while at medical school. “I worked with the visual differences charity Changing Faces, and created a body of work that I exhibited at my medical school anatomy lab,” says Rebecca. Since then, she has been steadily working on concepts and designs for the past decade. But it wasn’t until Rebecca was accepted onto the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, a scheme that offers opportunities for junior doctors and wider health professionals to develop their entrepreneurial aspirations during their clinical training period, that things started to pick up. “Here I was able to consolidate my ideas for the brand,” says Rebecca, “and Rebecca Violette was officially born.”
Walking the walk It was a love of fashion and the way that it allows us to express our personality that first inspired Rebecca to design her own clothes. Which is why the wearability of her designs was vital. The fabrics tell stories, with each design addressing a visual difference such as alopecia, vitiligo, acne, mastectomy scarring, burns or amputation. Throughout the range, a variety of methods are employed to communicate the messages. These range from prints that explicitly tell you to “look”, to others which more subtly represent specific visual differences with printed and embroidered patterns. Modelled by those with visual differences themselves, everything about the brand is a celebration of the things that make us who we are. But despite the weight of the topics that the clothes carry, Rebecca maintains that “they are pieces of wearable art for all to enjoy, embrace and celebrate”. “I think individuals have been telling these stories before now,” she notes. “It’s just I’m representing it differently – on fabric and clothes.” Opening eyes The Rebecca Violette designs are all about subtle symbolism and imagery. “The eye is significant and features often in the designs,” Rebecca says, pointing to the Look at Me and I See You prints as examples. “The Rebecca Violette logo started life as a selfportrait I did of my eye intertwined into the letters ‘R’ and ‘V’. I wanted to have a powerful but simple logo that portrayed the message of seeing individuals, in all their beauty.” The past couple of years have seen a huge drive towards a more inclusive and diverse fashion industry. Consumers, models and designers Continues >>>
A History of Fashion and Diversity Early fashion designers employed models who looked like the people buying their clothing ranges. This, of course, meant models came in many shapes and sizes. But this all changed in the early 20th century when fashion became editorial; models became muses, and designers wanted their pieces to be “perfect” and aspirational. Since then, it’s been a slow crawl towards diversity. But what have we achieved so far? 1948: Zelda Wynn Valdes becomes the first African American fashion designer to open a shop. 1966: Donyale Luna is the first black model to be on the cover of Vogue. 1980: Marina Rinaldi, one of the first high-end clothing lines for plus-size women, is established. 2010: Debenhams become the first high-street retailer to use a disabled model in a fashion campaign. 2014: Model and wheelchair-user Jillian Mercado starts her career in a campaign for designer Diesel. 2015: Madeline Stuart does her debut catwalk as a model with Down’s syndrome. 2016: Actor and model Hari Nef becomes Elle magazine’s first transgender cover star in the UK. 2017: Zebedee Management, the first agency for disabled models, is founded. 2018: The Fashion Spot Diversity Report shows that, although we still have a way to go, runways and campaigns are more diverse than they have ever been.
Top right: Photography, Arun Sundar | Models (far left), Ahila Jegerajan, Katie Gee, Katy Anne Lewis | MUA, Jade Soar Bottom left: Photography, Moyo Creative | Model, Rory McGuire | MUA, Paula Barjau & Emily Bobczenok
have all been coming together to take an industry, that for so long has promoted a standardised concept of beauty, into 2018. “It’s an incredible time to be stepping into the fashion industry,” says Rebecca. “Though that being said, there is a long way to go to break down stereotypes, but steps are being made.” It’s true: centuries of industry standards won’t be totally deconstructed overnight. But the eye-opening work that Rebecca is doing is a sure way to push the movement forward. “I’m creating garments that not only showcase beautiful prints, but that tell an incredibly important story,” Rebecca continues. “Unlike other campaigns that use slogans, Rebecca Violette’s ethos is intertwined within its creativity.” To the future If 2018 is the year that we start saying a hard “no” to standardised beauty, things can only get better from here. Up until now, visual difference has often been left out of the diversity in fashion conversation, but Rebecca Violette is the brand shifting the focus. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m determined to continue to challenge through fashion,” says Rebecca. “Watch this space.” To find out more, visit rebeccaviolette. com, or follow her on instagram: @rebeccaviolette_uk
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I wanted to have a powerful but simple logo that portrayed the message of seeing individuals, in all their beauty
5 Apps to
d e s i n a g r O t e G I
n 2018 we’re all very busy. So busy, in fact, that often the things that we actually want to spend our time doing fall by the wayside. We deal with pressure at work, pressure at home, and pressure from social media to be living our best lives 24/7; soon enough, something’s got to give. But along with a to-do list that just won’t quit, the 21st century has also given us powerful technology, and with these five apps you’ll soon be taking back control of your precious time. Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
1. Smarter Time Where does the time go? No, really, where does it go? Smarter Time helps you track how you spend your day. By using your phone’s sensors, location and your own inputs, this app creates data and reports on how you spend your life, and how you can balance your daily activities and build better habits. You might discover that you only spend 8% of your time with your family, but 30% in overrun meetings, and 5% on social media. Whatever the results may be, Smarter Time equips you with the data to reassess where you invest your most valuable asset: your time. (Google Play, free)
2. Just Press Record Suddenly remembered that creeping deadline? Need to pick up some milk from the shops? Got the plot for your yet-to-be-written best-seller? Just Press Record is the note making app for when a pen and paper is out of reach. An audio recorder that then automatically transcribes your voice memos, Just Press Record will also upload memos to iCloud, syncing all your devices and making sure you never miss a light-bulb moment.
3. RescueTime How do you really spend your time online? RescueTime tracks which sites and apps you spend the longest on each day. Want to maximise your efficiency and stop procrastinating? This app will help you discover which online habits may be holding you back from reaching your full potential, and it can also block websites for a certain amount of time – handy for when you’ve reached your daily allowance of cute animal videos. (iOS and Android; OS X, Windows, and Linux, free)
4. Trello Perfect for organising work assignments, Trello allows you to divide tasks up into manageable chunks on individual cards, which you can then drag and drop into columns as they are completed. You can set deadlines, comment on cards, upload files and share your board with friends or colleagues. Trello is available on desktop or in app and is free for personal use, or you can upgrade to a business account for $9.99 to $20.83 a month (all prices in US dollars). (Google Play, App Store, Microsoft)
Breaking bad habits is hard, but trying to create new ones can be even harder. With Streaks, you can create up to 12 tasks that you’d like to turn into daily habits such as drinking enough water, doing the washing up, or meditating for five minutes before bed. Each day, try to complete the tasks to keep the streak going – if you miss a day the streak resets to zero, but keep them going and you’ll soon develop good habits with the power to transform your lifestyle. (iOS, £4.99) August 2018 • happiful • 75
MAKE THIS THE SUMMER OF PURA VIDA Pura Vida is a Costa Rican concept that translates to “pure life”, and is all about conserving a laid-back and optimistic spirit
Photography | Dabir Bernard
A Grief Encounter Erma Bombeck, American humourist, once said: “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and hurt.” One person who recognises the close connection between laughter and grief is comedian Eshaan Akbar, who found solace doing stand-up following the death of his mother. While comedy isn’t what Eshaan would call his ‘therapy’, it has given him a means to understand his own behaviour – and remain connected to his beloved mum
here are a few common refrains comedians will hear from noncomedians (Noncos) when they find out about our profession. “I could never do it” (you’re right, you couldn’t, so don’t); “I couldn’t deal with hecklers” (King’s Lynn is the worst place on earth); and “All comedians need therapy” (well…). Continues >>>
Lifestyle & Relationships
It’s a sweeping generalisation that is ingrained in popular culture. From the 17th-century performances of the “sad clown” Pierrot, to more contemporary explorations, such as the powerful story of The Great Clown Pagliacci as told by The Comedian to Rorschach in the graphic novel Watchmen, the idea that laughter and sadness co-exist appeal to this oddly romantic notion of what it means to be a comedian. I started performing comedy in March 2014. Two months later, I unexpectedly lost my mum to a severe heart attack, aged 54. Her sudden death rocked the foundations of, what now seemed like, our tiny family of three – including a brother 10 years younger than me. Two weeks after she passed away, I performed again. In hindsight, it was a decision made while in shock to provide a distraction from the pain we were all in. It was poignant that the gig was in the same venue that my mum saw me perform the one and only time she did, after which she remarked that, although I looked fat on stage, it would bode well for me in the long run. I continued to perform on stages up and down the country. Three
couldn’t be there to witness it. It was my friend that reminded me it was nowhere near the biggest gig I’d been in that year – that was three months before when I stood side by side with my brother inside my mother’s grave as they lowered her body into our arms so we could lay her to rest. A powerful part of the Muslim burial process. People don’t tell you that comedy can be a lonely profession. The elation of making hundreds of people laugh in a previously unheard of town (except King’s Lynn... seriously, don’t go there), soon becomes the dull humming of the engine in your car, because late-night Magic FM is desperate to see which ballad will send you to sleep, while Kiss FM is a hellish punishment with repetition and monotony. If you need a confession from a suspect, throw them in solitary confinement with just Kiss FM for company and see what happens. But the stage is a liberating place for me. On countless occasions, particularly in the immediate aftermath of my mum’s passing, I would find myself backstage with tears in my eyes, wipe them off just as I reached the microphone, and
I would find myself backstage with tears in my eyes, wipe them off just as I reached the microphone, and find 20 minutes of complete peace months later, a few days before my 30th birthday, I was performing at my biggest gig to date in front of 400 people at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My nervousness was predominantly anguish that my mum
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find 20 minutes of complete peace. I don’t know if I’m mistaking this with the silence of my audience, but it certainly feels like peace. It’s as though I’m covered in a cocoon of independence – independent from
my thoughts, my feelings, my mum. It’s a place that has no association with her. And frankly, when you’ve physically buried your mum while standing in her grave, people not laughing at your jokes pales into insignificance. Comedians are unique in that we are all observers of ourselves and the world around us. It takes a special set of skills to observe the choices and decisions one makes (while making them) and to share them in a funny way with a group of strangers, hoping they’ll laugh (like my obsession with and belief that mechanical pencils make me look cool). Part of that is recognising how we’re feeling and sharing that with people, hoping that they’ll find solidarity and solace in those feelings. We all experience love, loss and loneliness. It’s perhaps those three things that unite all of us. A comedian feels like an artistic embodiment of all those feelings. Performing comedy hasn’t been my therapy. At best, it’s been a distraction from managing my grief. And this is important. Just as there’s no such thing as dealing with cancer or diabetes, there’s no such thing as dealing with depression or grief. At most, we can only ever hope to manage it. In November 2017, in a moment of what felt like clarity, I inexplicably (and hesitantly) jumped in front of a (moving) train. It was the second time I’d tried to end my life since 2009. Spoiler alert: I was unsuccessful on both occasions. I injured my back and haven’t gone to the doctor to explain what happened, lest he put me in for psychiatric assessment. But I’ve found great humour in depicting a picture of an overweight man being unable to commit suicide in this way because of the inadequacy of a train to overcome my weight. Truly, this
Photography | Steve Ullathorne
We all experience love, loss and loneliness. It’s perhaps those three things that unite all of us. A comedian feels like an artistic embodiment of all those feelings helps me observe and understand my behaviour in a way I’m yet to feel therapy would. I know I need a professional to help me understand what is going on in my mind. And when the time comes, I will. But for now, I’m comfortable making sense of the things that make me feel that way I do, by saying them on stage. I used to play a game with my mother, where I’d jokingly ask her to choose who, between me and my brother, had the better qualities – who was better looking, more intelligent, or friendlier for example. She would always choose him. The only question she ever chose me for was: “Who makes you laugh more?” And perhaps it’s because of this reason that I continue doing comedy. I need therapy to unpack that. Eshaan is performing his show ‘Prophet Like It’s Hot’ during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from the 4–26 August. Visit tickets.edfringe. com to go along and have a laugh. To hear more from Eshaan, head to eshaanakbar.com and follow him on Twitter @eshaanakbar
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FIND YOUR ‘FLOW’, BOOST YOUR WELLBEING When you find the right balance between skill and challenge, you’re likely to feel happy, powerful and full of energy – in fact, you’ll be flowing Writing | Karen Alford
ave you ever felt so absorbed in an enjoyable book or activity that you lost track of time? You were so caught up in the story, or in the complexity of what you were doing, that the outside world vanished. You felt present. Connected. Exhilarated. We call this sensation “flow” and it’s hugely beneficial for our mental wellbeing. When we experience total immersion in a challenging activity, important changes take place in our brain chemistry.
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Illustrating | Rosan Magar
Pleasure and performanceenhancing chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are released; we feel happy, powerful and bounding with energy. And the happiness that comes from “flow” is a feeling we create ourselves. It was psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who identified “flow” in the 1990s. He says we reach this blissful state when we find the right balance between skill and challenge. If our challenge is too great, we’ll be stressed. If the challenge is not enough, boredom kicks in. But when it’s just right, we experience “flow”. Around 85% of people are believed to be capable of experiencing “flow”. For some, it happens several times a day, for others now and then. Yet everyone can improve their ability to experience “flow”.
1 Step out of your comfort zone
Do something that’s slightly beyond your comfort zone. It needs to be challenging but not overwhelming. Something that you enjoy and requires skill. If you love swimming, you could aim to swim a certain distance over time. You might even try a short open-water swim if you’ve not tackled one before. However, committing to swim the Channel in four weeks’ time would have the opposite effect and leave you stressed, rather than energised. When you take on a challenge that’s manageable to you – anything from trying out a new recipe, to making a patchwork quilt – you increase your chances of experiencing “flow”.
2 Get better at something
Develop an existing skill, try a new one, or take up an old one. For example, if you tap-danced as a child, have some adult lessons. Dancing is an ideal activity to trigger “flow”. You have to follow rules, it involves skill, you get immediate feedback as to whether the steps are correct or not, and it can be fun – if it’s your thing. “Flow” is very individual, so you need to find what works for you – and there are no limits. Mountain climbing, sailing, reading an academic book, yoga, or an enjoyable work project might be your thing, and all of them can promote the feeling of “flow”. Whatever appeals to you, draws you in and challenges you, can help you find your “flow”.
3 Have clear aims and objectives
Make sure your activity has clear, realistic and achievable goals. Goals are important to “flow” as they give us control over what we do. Working towards them makes us disciplined and gives us a sense of purpose. Take elite athletes, who have to be completely in tune with mind and body to achieve extraordinary feats. “Flow” is all in a day’s work for them. They become at one with their sport or activity, and in total control of their performance.
4 Keep an unflinching focus
Stay focused on what you’re doing and give it all your attention. It’s this deep level of concentration on the task that blocks out all other distractions. Apply yourself completely and nothing else matters. Jean Lowell, who has anxiety and depression, sings regularly in a choir and understands the transformative power of “flow”. She says: “I feel really joyful when I sing, and mastering the difficult parts takes up all my thoughts. After a rehearsal, I go away full of energy and in a more positive frame of mind.”
5 Lose yourself
Forget yourself. You may think that’s easier said than done, but it’s crucial if you want to experience “flow”. As a source of mental energy, “flow” both invigorates and motivates us so we can forget ourselves. As you immerse yourself in your activity, you’ll shut off any critical “self-talk”, niggling worries and distractions. “Flow” is about losing yourself in something that offers no tangible reward beyond the activity itself. Karen Alford is a freelance writer, with a special interest in health and wellbeing. August 2018 • happiful • 81
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Taking back control Karen Manton was hospitalised every two years as she battled with her undiagnosed bipolar disorder, even becoming stranded in Wales after a manic episode in which she ran away to Ireland in search of singer Daniel O’Donnell. But years later, when she finally received her diagnosis, it wasn’t a negative thing. Instead, it was a revelation, and Karen felt she was equipped to successfully manage her illness
s the train clattered through the tunnels, I could hear voices pounding in my ears. I was convinced that everyone was talking about me. I could hear: “That poor girl, she is so unwell.” Of course these people did not even know me; this was the paranoia of my illness. It was 1996, and I was travelling around Wales, completely lost. I had been discharged from a mental hospital, and left to board the wrong train in Llandudno as I attempted to make my way home alone. I had recently become very unwell with my bipolar disorder – though undiagnosed at the time. It had been the usual signs, with a lack of sleep, and racing thoughts followed by the devastating delusions. My illness always followed the same pattern, but of course I was unaware that I had bipolar then. I had always been told that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. When I was 17,
and had only been in my first full-time job a matter of weeks, I was in a very destructive relationship. The pressure of this caused me to lose sleep, and it was only a matter of time before my insomnia resulted in me becoming deluded. After a visit to the GP and a course of antidepressants, I eventually recovered. It was six years later, in 1992, that I had my next episode. Exactly nine months after I’d had a termination due to my ill-health, I had a phantom pregnancy. This caused me to be admitted to the mental hospital – the first time that I was to be sectioned, experiencing delusions and the belief that I was Jesus reincarnated. I thought that I was immortal and that I would never die, which was a very frightening place to be. It became a pattern that whenever something out of the ordinary happened in my life, my reaction was often to have a manic episode Continues >>>
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Welcome to My World
Karen’s Story followed by a period of depression. On this occasion where I was lost in Wales, the catalyst had been my dad’s throat cancer diagnosis. Life with my dad had been far from easy. Throughout my childhood, while my dad was a hard worker, he also enjoyed a few drinks. This resulted in domestic violence towards my Mam. However, as the years went by dad and I became extremely close, sharing a passion for music, and in particular Daniel O’Donnell. We would watch his videos and sing along to his music together, and longed to see the beautiful views of Ireland. For me, that day was to come sooner than planned. As I was entering my manic episode in 1996, I became obsessed with Daniel, his music and Ireland. I demanded that my then husband took me there, and the only reason he consented was that he was afraid of what I might do. However, on arriving at Holyhead we argued more, and he felt he had to take our two small children home. He was beside himself with worry, but I was adamant I was going to Ireland. I was so unwell that I thought he had
Karen and her mum at a ball Daniel O’Donnell held in his hometown of Kinclassagh in 1997
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To hear those words did not upset me, in fact I felt a wave of relief. Now I knew that I had a mental illness, I could do something about it boarded the ferry in the car, so off to Ireland I went, only to spend the day with the An Garda Síochána (Irish police) as I had no money, and no belongings. They looked after me, and returned me to Holyhead where I was met by the police and placed in a mental hospital in Wales, in the hope that I would become well enough to return home. After a few days though, they discharged me, and I was dropped at the train station in Llandudno. Alone, I found myself boarding the wrong train and ending up in Blaenau Ffestiniog, thinking I was back in my home town of Middlesbrough. Fortunately, a lovely lady found me and led me to a drop-in centre. I received help and was put back on a train to meet my family, under the watchful eye of the guard. On returning home, I was soon admitted to our local mental hospital. As much as I needed to be there, it was never a pleasant experience; being detained under the Mental Health Act was always very frightening. After I was first sectioned in 1992, I went on to suffer further episodes in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002. In all this time I was never told what was wrong with me. I decided enough was enough and it was about time I was given a diagnosis. I needed to know why I was becoming ill every two years and had no quality of life.
In 2002, I went into the ward armed with a list of questions, and was relieved to find that my new consultant was more than willing to listen. He had clearly already been studying my case, and said: “Karen, from what you’ve told me, I believe that you have bipolar disorder.” To hear those words did not upset me, in fact I felt a wave of relief. Now I knew that I had a mental illness, I could do something about it. My consultant found medication to keep me calm, and explained how important it was that I remain on it. In the past, with permission, I stopped taking medication when I was well. However, I was now prepared to do anything to remain stable. And so here we are in 2018, and I haven’t been hospitalised since 2002. I have the confidence now to say that I know I never will be again. I remain on my medication, and see my consultant every three to four months; it’s reassuring to know that if I need him in an emergency I am still in the system. Continuing my medication has been the secret to remaining well for me, however, I am now very self-aware too and can sense if things are not quite right. I know my triggers and do my best to avoid them. I also embarked on 22 weeks of cognitive analytical therapy a few years ago to help me move on from the past. Since then, I have remarried and have a very supportive husband and family. My children are now adults and offer great support. I participate in exercise classes every week where I get to socialise, I go walking with my gorgeous cockapoo Bonnie, and have regular catch-ups with my lovely friends. Bipolar disorder no longer controls me, I control it. When you learn how to manage your illness, you can make changes and live a fulfilling life.
Karen celebrating her boo k launch, with her husban d Paul, daughter Bernadette, son Peter and his fiancée Bec ky
onnell in 1997 Karen meeting Daniel O’D
Karen has written a book about her life and her experiences to help and inspire others who struggle with bipolar disorder: ‘Searching For Brighter Days; Learning to Manage My Bipolar Brain’, published by Trigger Press.
Our Expert Says Karen suffered for a long time without knowing why, and the uncertainty around the serious symptoms must have been difficult. Her narrative shows the power of being understood, because her diagnosis really helped with that. I’m glad Karen has found a supportive consultant who can be part of her wider support network. She is clearly taking good care of herself, doing things she knows helps both in the good times and when she is more stressed, which is key to managing symptoms of mental illness.
Fe Robinson MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) UKRCP psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
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Charity of the Month
Launch of the Standing Together project for combatting loneliness in later life
Mental Health Foundation Mental Health Awareness Week may be what it’s most associated with, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Mental Health Foundation. The charity strives to remain at the forefront of research, challenge injustice, and improve our responses to mental ill-health. Just as its ambitious founder had a vision to overhaul our approach to mental health more than 70 years ago, the charity is firmly setting its sights on turning awareness into action
t’s barely two minutes into my meeting with the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), and I can feel their burning desire to catalyse change, and spark a national conversation around mental health. They have undoubted clout; they are the theme setters of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), and their
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Writing | Maurice Richmond
skill is making more and more of us use this time to question our own mental health, and that of those around us. Yet, this is just one week. Having an estimated 100 million viewers of its content, 90 minutes of the nation’s broadcast time on its research, and 22,000 sales of its distinctive green pins, all in seven days, will not suffice
– their words after a record-breaking week, not mine. “We’ve got more work to do to hold the relevant decision-makers’ feet to the fire.” Mark Rowland, MHF’s director of fundraising and communications, didn’t pull any punches as the charity continues its quest to turn awareness into action.
The little pin, with a big statement
A Mental Health Foundation runner at the 2018 London Marathon
“Good mental health for all”, be it at school, at the workplace, or in later life. This is MHF’s mantra, and it’s intent on including everyone, literally; it prides itself as the only UK-wide mental health organisation. So how does it cover so much ground? BEGINNINGS Charities get off the ground armed with both the wisdom and foresight of inspirational people. Nearly 70 years ago, the MHF took off using the blueprints of a neurochemist who was way ahead of his time. Derek Richter sought to start a radical conversation about mental health, in terms of research, its definition and, above all, on how to challenge our approach to different conditions. Derek’s vision came in the haze of a post-war UK; it was 1949 and the country was preoccupied with developing a pioneering healthcare system – the National Health Service
(NHS). At the time, memories were still fresh of people being detained and locked away swiftly and mercilessly for experiencing mental ill-health. MHF sought primarily to fully understand the problem. “Derek Richter had a message which said: ‘Look, this is not a reasonable response to legitimate health concerns and experience,” Mark explains. “He wanted a much fairer amount of research. In the 1960s, we developed the first diagnostic tools, an ‘international rule book’ on how to understand different mental health conditions. That led to an ever increasing number of diagnosable conditions.” With time, and copious amounts of research, came progress, yet it became clearer that mental health problems were more widespread than had originally been thought. Mark says: “We saw a massive expansion, psychiatrists thought the
You might have spotted some big names sporting MHF’s green-ribbon pin, but what does it signify? Well, this is the international symbol for mental health awareness, just as the red poppy is synonymous with military deaths in war. MHF ambassador and actor David Harewood has been joined by other famous faces, including Olivia Colman and Samantha Womack, in taking selfies proudly wearing their pins. To buy your own green pin, visit mentalhealth.org.uk
behaviour and symptoms people were experiencing would describe 2% of the population. What it actually found was that experience of mental health problems was much larger – more like 15%. “The answer to the problem of ‘supply and demand’ was a massive expansion of pharmaceutical treatment through anti-depression drugs for the population – far better than locking them up.” Undoubtedly, this was a step forward. But MHF felt this was a sample brushstroke, and not the full picture. MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK Fast forward to the 1990s. Huge strides had been made with mental health awareness, but there was plenty more distance to cover. Mental health had to become mainstream, even if only for a short space of time. Continues
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Charity of the Month
World Shaw Mind ambassador Hope Virgo, speaking at anSleep eventDay – the MHF raising awareness of the importance of sleep for good mental health on World Sleep Day 2018
It’s a fact: •£ 6 million raised in 2017–18 •8 0 London Marathon runners in 2018 • Founded in 1949 •8 0 full-time staff •O ffices in London, Cardiff, and Glasgow Mark notes: “As the 1990s went on, it was not enough to just have a clinical specialist researching. We needed to make some significant cultural and public movement to understand the causes of poor mental health. “We needed an opportunity in the year, where people could openly talk about mental health. Amazing as it seems, even at the turn of the 21st century, that was still a radical
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idea, to give people the opportunity to talk about their distress they had experienced.” In Mark’s words, the floodgates were opened, and Mental Health Awareness Week kicked off in 2001. Its initial aim was starting the conversation, but research was never far from the foundation’s thoughts.“We have always tried to use the week to increase the evidence base, make a contribution, and take a further step,” Mark says. “We have always picked a different theme for deepening our understanding into a particular area of mental health.” Over the past 18 years, this has led them to discuss sleep, exercise and nutrition, always focusing on positive steps people can take. Most recently, MHF wanted to put stress in the spotlight. DEBUNKING MYTHS So where do MHF fit into the picture today? To fully understand this, Mark takes us a few steps back in time.
“When there was an outbreak of cholera in the 1850s in London, it was thought people contracted it from coughing,” says Mark. “John Snow (not that Jon Snow, or the other one either) mapped where people were dying, and he found that all of the people who were dying were drawing water from one specific pump. “People thought it was airborne, but it was waterborne. That is what the Mental Health Foundation is looking to do – find what the causes of mental health problems are. We work to address the real sources and find effective solutions. “We want to build a society that is more mentally healthy and equip individuals with the skills they need to keep healthy, or to recover. We want to really challenge the idea that mental health is this immutable disease, that we can’t change.” This would be quite a contribution, take it as cause, effect, and if at all possible, solution, given that two thirds
Mark Rowland, MHF’s director of fundraising and communications
Peer Education Project Aimed at equipping schools and the next generation with the right wellbeing tools, MHF want to tackle mental health issues at source. Over the past two years MHF have trained 16-year-olds in 35 schools in England and Wales with the skills to support their younger counterparts. These are imparted in five hour-long lessons, with workbooks containing key pointers, and worksheets to reinforce the message. Within two years, it hopes to have the Department For Education enlisted to further develop the project. Project cost per pupil: £7.62 Cost per pupil (if 500 schools sign up): £3 Cost per school: £150
of people will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. A staggering 75% of all mental health problems are established by the age of 25, with 50% by the age of 14. With these worrying statistics comes the need to respond and educate our young people.
wants to tackle mental health in the workplace, and encourage thinking outside of the box. Mark says: “I think there will be some exciting developments, not just managers in the workplace responding better and more effectively to the mental health of their staff. That will happen.
WHAT NEXT Being UK-wide, the foundation is able to tap into policy outside the Westminster bubble, and it intends to position itself at the heart of Scotland’s suicide prevention strategy, the latest incarnation of which is still under development. MHF has been privy to meetings with ministers and civil servants, and given both oral and written evidence to the health committee. It hopes the extensive press coverage it’s gained will feed into Scottish strategy for years to come. The foundation has a rich history, but resting on its laurels is far from its thoughts. Over the next five years, it
We want to really challenge the idea that mental health is this immutable disease, that we can’t change “We would like to play our full part in a revolution of the way that mental health is understood and responded to in the workplace. The way we do work as well will have to change. “The evidence base is there to show a four-day working week is better
for productivity, wellbeing and for our overall mental health. We have arbitrarily decided that a five-day working week is the way it should be. We want more employers to explore the possibility of looking at how we do work in fundamentally different ways.” Community resilience also features prominently in their vision for the next five years, testing intervention points to get a “blueprint” for local government and decision-makers, all to “help people live free and healthy lives”. And there we have it. Just as Derek Richter sought to create his blueprint, nearly 70 years later, the Mental Health Foundation is still drawing up fresh and innovative plans to continue bringing about good mental health for all. To find out how you can support the Mental Health Foundation, visit mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved and follow them on Twitter @mentalhealth
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Like Mother Like Daughter:
Being there for the one you love Nominated by her daughter Megan, Ann Lumbard always goes the extra mile to support the people she cares for
egan Lumbard has struggled with her mental health since childhood, but it wasn’t until later that she received diagnoses of depression, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), dermatillomania, generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, and panic disorder. Being there for someone with a mental illness isn’t always easy, but the difference that support from a loved one can make is immeasurable. When Megan began struggling with her mental health and receiving diagnoses, she instantly knew that her mum had Send your her back. nominations to “Mum tells me email@example.com that if I don’t want to comb my hair, that’s OK, let her do it,” Megan tells us. “If I want to go for a walk and not talk, that’s fine, she will walk with me. And if I want to cry, here’s her shoulder.”
Do you know an unsung hero?
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For Ann, open-mindedness and inclusivity are values at the forefront of her mind, something that Megan says has always been instilled in her. “Mum mostly lets me know that we all have dark days, especially those going through mental health issues, and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed.” In her community, Ann campaigns for “Quiet Hours” in the shop where she works. These are specific times in stores that are designed to help those on the autism spectrum go about their daily lives without experiencing sensory overloads in busy places. In a study by the National Autistic Society, it was discovered that 79% of autistic people feel socially isolated, but Ann wants to put an end to this. Ann and Megan have an incredible bond. “We have one of those ‘made for movies’ type of relationships,” says Megan. “We joke and clown around way too much – Snapchat filters and the Crazy Helium app have become our favourite pastimes. Singing Cliff Richard and P!NK in a car wouldn’t be the same if my mum wasn’t doing it with me. She makes me laugh until I cry.”
From the support that Ann gives to her daughter through the hard times, to the empathy she extends to the people in her community, it is her incredible capacity for compassion that Megan admires most in her mum. “My mum is the most wonderful person, who makes me so proud,” says Megan. “Even though she says she doesn’t have a best friend, I’m obviously hers.”
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Photography | Mahir Uysal
“Life’s a climb. But the view is great.” – Miley Cyrus
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Our August issue of Happiful magazine is here, so what better excuse is there to take a break and relax in this glorious heatwave? Time to g...