The Magazine Devoted to Mental Health
Festival season is upon us and this year it's all about
Are they keeping you up at night?
HOPE & LIGHT IN THE DARKEST
ing Sands Char r u at GIVING
June 2018 / £4
It's a thing... finally!
We Have the Secret...
Proactive solutions to help get sh done
The Inside Story
Scott Mills Overcoming panic attacks and proving that the sky's the limit
True Stories Great Reads Life Hacks happiful.com | £4.00
The Love Island star opens up about relationships, anxiety and her inner chimp
Photography | Alex Holyoake
IT’S OK TO LET YOURSELF OFF THE HOOK EVERY NOW AND THEN “Have patience with all things, but first with yourself.” – St Francis de Sales
Cut yourself some slack How many times a day do you feel guilty for not being more organised, or veering off-track from your “life plan”? Perhaps it’s more than that. Maybe you’re working on your emotional health, seeing people around you manage stress differently, or appearing to bounce back from adversity more quickly? What is so crucial to remember though is that there is no time-limit on recovery, and no deadline on grief. With mental health, there’ll be times where we’re battling our demons on a daily basis, and periods when we’re able to live with them – they’re in the background, but at least they’re not taking the lead.
This month, we implore you to cut yourself some slack. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be just yet – whether that’s with your mental health, relationships, big life goals, or even just your daily to-do list. You’ll get there, in your own time. From our incredible cover star Olivia talking about accepting her flaws, to Sas Petherick on overcoming selfdoubt, and Scott Mills finding his own form of therapy, we want to inspire you to allow yourself to feel how you need to, and not feel bad about it – don’t compare yourself and your progress to others around you. As the Dalai Lama said: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” And as kind as you are to others, remember to also be kind to yourself.
So regardless of where you are on your journey, know that the most important thing is that you keep on walking, even if it feels like you have to take a few steps back now and then. Keep looking ahead, because one day you will be out of the woods, and the view will be worth the climb.
Rebecca Thair Acting Editor
Don’t forget to join us on social media, we love getting to know you! happiful.com
This Month in Happiful
Contents June 2018
from every copy sold through a subscription goes to Sands charity. Check out our print subscription offer on p74
16 OLIVIA BUCKLAND
The Love Island star reveals her ongoing battle with anxiety, learning to understand her inner chimp called “Candy”, and finding her fairytale ending with fiancé Alex Bowen
24 THE CHARITY GIVING HOPE
15 babies die every day in the UK. Sands are the charity with the vision to change that
32 THE POWER OF MUSIC
Discovering what the music industry is doing to support the mental health of artists, their crew, and the fans too
44 RADIO 1’S SCOTT MILLS
After a lifetime of anxiety, DJ Scott now finds comfort in challenging himself and being out of his comfort zone
50 MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
A look at the training that’s revolutionising workplaces – and how you can get involved
54 SELF-CARE GURU
Sas Petherick talks us through self-doubt, and just how we can defeat it
Life Stories 29 LIFE AFTER LOSS
Excitedly preparing for her third child, Jodie received the most devastating news. Supported in her grief by Sands, Jodie speaks out to break the taboo of talking about babies dying
38 FIGHTING THE STIGMA
After her daughter took her own life, Liz is fighting to make sure no family has to go through what she has
59 LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF
Helena used disordered eating as a coping mechanism, until her mum taught her a way to control her urges, through tapping.
75 WALKING OUT OF DARKNESS
Jake felt his life wasn’t worth living, but discovered a new connection with the world as he walked 3,000 miles around beautiful Britain
Discover the power of music p32
Happiful Hacks 14 RECOVERY
5 tips for navigating the road to recovery – with speed bumps and all
42 SEIZE THE DAY
Don’t hesitate – tips to help you keep your to-do list on track, starting today
48 ADVICE FOR PARENTS
Tools to help children and adolescents to manage their stress in a healthy way
How the social media app can help you to overcome social anxiety
Advice on how you can support a loved one
p44 Scott Mills on anxiety
READER OFFER Print May 2018 / £4
l Healt h Devot ed to Menta The Maga zine
| May 2018
of Suppo rt ears
The Missing People Charity
ine The Magaz
Pooches Adopt Don't Shop
Good News Real Life
alth Mental He Devoted to
REASONS WHY a It’s OK to Take MH Day Off Work
She's igniting the spark for the self-love movement
ise WelcmyhENTER Den wise word with INSIDE
16-year-old self happiful.com
AT THE CHECKOUT
Learn to Take Your Emotional pa Temperature 03/04/2018
For 12 print issues!
7 IN THE NEWS
Happiful delivered to your door before it hits the shelves
The ‘Genderquake’, PCOS, and swimming confidence sessions for those with skin disfigurements
11 THE WELLBEING WRAP
A quick review of this month’s latest stories
12 SHAME SPIRALS
Replaying conversations in your head all night? You might be in a shame spiral
Food & Drink 62 BEAST BEAUTIFUL
£6 donation to charity UK post and packaging included Exclusive offers Competitions and prize draws! *Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing. 25% discount using code HAPPIPRINT at shop.happiful.com
The author and founder of I Quit Sugar on reframing our own ‘Beasts’
66 BBQ TIME
Two recipes to make the most of the weather, and get the garden party started this summer
Lifestyle & Relationships 57 10 THINGS TO DO IN JUNE
Our top tips for what to try this month – from musicals at Trafalgar Square, to getting hygge with it
68 HAPPIFUL READS
Sex and relationships for Aspie women
70 Q&A WITH YINKA BOKINNI
The Capital Xtra presenter on bereavement, displacement and the #MeToo movement
Completely free online Same great content as in print Exclusive offers Competitions!
78 SUPPORTING YOUR PARTNER
When your SO is struggling with their mental health, it can take over your lives, but we have advice on how you can support each other for a healthy, happy relationship
82 THE UNSUNG HERO
Boxes of kindness for chemotherapy patients
OUR PLEDGE For every tree we use to print this magazine, we will ensure two are planted or grown.
Introducing the professionals behind Happiful Magazine who help to ensure we deliver the highest quality advice
F BE sM BA Hon
NATASHA DEVON Natasha is a campaigner, speaker and author, and is an accredited instructor for Beat and MHFA England.
d AE MSc B
Rebecca Thair | Acting Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Editorial Assistant Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor
KATE DIMMER Kate is a registered nutritional therapist and registered nutritionist.
Graeme Orr | Expert Advisor Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer
ed )B AC P
Rosan Magar | Illustrator
BA CP (Re g
This Month in Happiful
M g) (Re
FE ROBINSON Fe is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. Fe advises on our content.
( CP MBA
GRAEME ORR Graeme is a counsellor who specialises in relationships and advises on our life stories.
CONTRIBUTORS Gemma Calvert, Maurice Richmond, Bonnie Evie Gifford, Natasha Devon, Shaun Brown, Juliet Landau-Pope, Kat Nicholls, Lucy Donoughue, Ellen Hoggard, Kate Dimmer Fiona Thomas, Becky Wright, Jodie Blackman, Liz De Oliveira, Helena Grace Donald, Jake Tyler SPECIAL THANKS Joseph Sinclair, Krishan Parmar, Lo Dias, Amanda Jackson, Fe Robinson, Rachel Coffey, Lucas Teague, Lena Fenton
C C F RSA
COMMUNICATIONS Lucy Donoughue | Head of Content and Communications firstname.lastname@example.org
LP AN BA M
RACHEL COFFEY Rachel is a life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation.
er MA ( Oxon) PGC
JULIET LANDAU-POPE Juliet is a certified coach, specialising in productivity, decluttering, and study skills.
Amie Sparrow | PR Manager email@example.com Maurice Richmond | Media and Communications Officer firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGEMENT Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Emma White | Director & Co-Founder Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Steve White | Finance Director
Re g) U
Happiful c/o Memiah, Building 3, Riverside Way Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL
P AC MB PGDip
Printed by Pensord Contact Us email@example.com
Lucas is a psychotherapist and supervisor interested in holistic approaches to counselling.
Further info Happiful magazine is FSC certified. Please help us preserve our planet by recycling this magazine. Why not pass on your copy to a friend afterwards? Alternatively, please place it in a recycling bin. Our two-for-one tree commitment is made of two parts. Firstly, we source all our paper from FSC certified sources. The FSC label guarantees that the trees harvested are replaced, or allowed to regenerate naturally. Secondly, we will ensure an additional tree is planted for each one used, by making a suitable donation to a forestry charity. Happiful is a brand of Memiah Limited. The opinions,
views and values expressed in Happiful are those of the authors of that content and do not necessarily represent our opinions, views or values. Nothing in the magazine constitutes advice on which you should rely. It is provided for general information purposes only. We do not accept liability for products and/or services offered by third parties. Memiah Limited is a private company limited by shares and registered in England and Wales with company number 05489185 and VAT number GB 920805837. Our registered office address is Building 3, Riverside Way, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL.
Positive news that transforms the world SOCIETY
Burns survivor hosts confidence swimming sessions for those with skin disfigurements
Sylvia Mac is on a mission to fight for equality for those with skin disfigurements
Building up confidence and knocking down stigmas – Sylvia Mac is changing lives with Love Disfigure
fter suffering severe burns as a child, Sylvia Mac now runs swimming sessions for those with skin disfigurements, offering them the chance to develop their confidence, and embrace their differences. At the age of three, Sylvia fell into a pot of boiling water, leaving her with third and fourth degree burns. Sylvia recovered, but was left with scars across her back and various parts of her body. As a child, Sylvia became a competitive swimmer and, while she loved being in the water, would work hard not to draw attention to herself or her burns by covering herself with a large towel up until the moment she got in the pool. Now aged 49, Sylvia reflects on her life and sees how fear of judgement from others, and the stigma against those with disfigurement, prevented her from reaching her full potential. Determined to support others with skin disfigurements and differences, Sylvia founded Love Disfigure, where she campaigns for greater representation, and runs monthly confidence swimming sessions. “During the sessions, I talk with the swimmers about their main concerns, then take them around poolside fully clothed,” Sylvia tells Happiful. “Afterwards, I take them back to the changing room and discuss areas that make them feel exposed or vulnerable, like showers, changing areas, poolside, and reception. I talk to them about people ‘staring’, and how we can learn to change our mindset. We then get changed together
You can find out more about Love Disfigure by visiting lovedisfigure.com, and by following them on Instagram @love_disfigure
and walk around the pool before getting in.” While Sylvia has seen incredible transformations in people’s confidence after attending sessions, the journey there isn’t always easy. “One lady who attended was so anxious that she had a panic attack outside,” says Sylvia. “It was the middle of winter, but I ran out in my swimsuit and brought her inside.” The lady continued to come to the sessions, growing in confidence each time, before eventually becoming a model for Love Disfigure, and joining Sylvia and three other women on ITV’s This Morning, wearing swimsuits and showing off their scars. But Sylvia’s work has only just begun: “I’m going to continue campaigning to open up opportunities in the fashion industry, TV and film, and the sporting world,” she says. “I hope to travel all over the country sharing our message, and fighting for equality and diversity for those with skin disfigurements and differences.” Kathryn Wheeler
June 2018 • happiful • 7
New app designed to help children born with a cleft palate Smile Train continues its mission to make cleft support accessible to all who may need it
nternational children’s charity Smile Train has developed a free, interactive app to support children with speech difficulty, due to their cleft palates. The most common facial birth defect in the UK, the NHS reports that one in 700 babies are born with a cleft lip or palate. The cleft is a hole on the roof of the mouth, or on the top lip, and occurs when a baby’s face doesn’t join together properly in the womb. While surgery to repair the cleft is straightforward, some children’s speech may be unclear or nasal-sounding as a result. Speech-therapy with a trained language therapist is often the next step, but this vital development tool can be expensive, and isn’t always available or accessible for those who need it. Smile Train has developed an app to support those with limited access to speech-language pathologists due to their socioeconomic status, income, or geographic location. The app uses interactive stories and games, pictured above, to help develop the child’s speech, and provides guidance for
8 • happiful • June 2018
parents on how to best support their child’s learning. Alongside the app, Smile Train provides free cleft-repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in more than 85 developing countries. For Smile Train, the sustainability of treatment is at the heart of what it does, and part of its work is about training local doctors to treat clefts in their own communities. “While this app does not replace the need for speech therapy, it encourages children to practise more often for better speech outcomes from their own home, and can reduce the need for travelling to and from appointments,” Pamela Sheeran, vice president of Smile Train, tells Happiful. “The app also gives children who wouldn’t normally have access to speech services a better opportunity to receive the care they need.” In line with their model to make cleft support accessible to all, the Smile Train app is free and is available to download on Android and iOS. Kathryn Wheeler
Speech and Language Therapy Service reduces impediments by 20% Worcestershire’s Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Service has been recognised as an “example of best practice” in a review by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Working with parents and teachers across the county, the service provides support to more than 6,500 children and young people, who have struggled with speech, language, communication, or swallowing. The team, made up of committed therapists, assistants, and admin staff, is having a lasting and measurable effect on its local community, and it’s estimated that the service has cut the number of children at risk of developing speech and language difficulties by an astonishing 20%.
Women with PCOS ‘exposed to mental health risks’ A link between polycystic ovary syndrome and mental health has finally been confirmed by experts
What is PCOS?
pioneering study by experts at Cardiff University has revealed that there is a link between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and mental health. The condition can cause excessive hair growth, weight gain, irregular periods and fertility problems, but thousands of sufferers also say it has an effect on their mental health. A trial was set up to explore this theory, as researchers assessed the mental health history of nearly 17,000 women with PCOS, and compared them with unaffected women. After matching trialists by age and body mass index, they found PCOS patients were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and eating disorders. Dr Aled Rees, a lead researcher at the university, said: “PCOS is one of the most common conditions affecting young women today, and the effect on mental health is still under-appreciated. “This is one of the largest studies to have examined the adverse mental health and neurodevelopmental outcomes
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone condition that describes a number of symptoms including irregular periods, excessive hair growth on the face and body, weight gain, oily skin and acne, thinning hair and hair loss (from the scalp), and difficulty conceiving. The NHS says the condition’s cause is still unknown, but affects 7–10% of women, with symptoms usually becoming apparent during the late teens or early 20s. associated with PCOS, and we hope the results will lead to increased awareness, earlier detection and new treatments.” The NHS has revealed how diet can play a significant role in managing symptoms. Dora Walsh, founder of Nutriheal and Nutritionist Resource member, supported this claim and revealed tips on how to adapt diets to PCOS: “Sufferers often experience blood sugar imbalances and weight gain, which can be helped by following a blood sugar balancing programme – avoiding refined sugar and white flour products, while favouring complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrains, and low carb fruits like apples and peaches. “Combining this for three meals a day with healthy proteins like lean chicken or fish, good fats such as extra virgin olive oil, and vegetables, can be satiating for PCOS sufferers, as they can reduce cravings for high sugar foods.” For more information on PCOS, visit verity-pcos.org.uk Maurice Richmond
June 2018 • happiful • 9
Munroe Bergdorf is set to have her first documentary air on Channel 4
GENDER MILESTONES 1897–1938: The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies campaigns for women’s right to vote 1958–1967: The Homosexual Law Reform Society is founded to campaign for the legalisation of same-sex relationships, which is decriminalised in 1967 1969: The Stonewall Riots, a series of violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT+ community, take place in New York. These are considered to lead towards the modern fight for LGBT+ rights
Channel 4 announces season of shows exploring gender In recognition of ‘Genderquake’, C4 is set to explore the gender debate with new programming
hannel 4 has announced a new season of shows exploring the issue of gender, covering gender privilege, sexual violence, feminism, gender fluidity and identity. The upcoming programmes will be a mixture of documentaries, comedies, arts collaborations, and social experiments. Included in the lineup is Munroe Bergdorf, transgender model and social activist. Set to feature in her first documentary – titled What Makes A Woman? – Munroe will examine the changing world of gender and identity in society, while undergoing drastic facial feminisation surgery. Known for her outspoken views on transgender rights, she will look at the science and social norms around gender, as she joins experts and women of all backgrounds to discover how our bodies, behaviour, and brains help define who we are.
10 • happiful • June 2018
“I’m beyond excited to share this documentary with everybody,” Munroe says. “The question ‘What makes a woman?’ has followed me throughout my life, so filming has been an emotional and turbulent journey of finding answers, and discovering if any finite answers even exist. I’m looking forward to being challenged, and hope this documentary sparks debate and changes perceptions.” With the Gender Recognition Act under debate, the pay gap hitting headlines, and the film and TV industry under scrutiny from 2017’s #MeToo revelations, both gender roles, and the definition of gender itself, seem to be up for debate. C4’s line-up looks to delve into this topic and bring it to a primetime audience. Other programmes set to air include a two-part factual, big brother-style entertainment series that puts a group of 11 young people with different perspectives and views of gender
1988: Denmark becomes the first country in the world to legally recognise same-sex unions 2002: Same-sex couples are granted equal rights when applying to adopt 2004: Gender Recognition and Civil Partnership Acts passed to allow trans people to acquire a new birth certificate, giving full legal recognition in their appropriate gender 2010: Gender reassignment officially added as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2013: Same-sex couples marriage act passes in England and Wales 2014: Working parents of all genders win the right to share statutory leave and pay when their child is born or adopted together under one roof for a week; a prank comedy series by up-andcoming comedians Riot Girls, tackling thought-provoking issues – including the gender pay gap, manspreading, and pubic hair – in a comedic way; and a collaboration between the first transgender woman to pass the Royal Academy of Dance examination, Sophie Rebecca, and transgender actor-writer Ash Palmisciano. Follow @Channel4 on Twitter for more updates. Bonnie Evie Gifford
Photography | Michael Phelps : Antonio Scorza/Afp/Getty Images, Emoji: emojipedia.org, Poster, Time to Change
Weird, wonderful and welcoming news
Swipe right! Dating app Badoo surveyed 5,000 people to find out what makes us swipe right – and what’s an immediate turn off. The results? We’re most drawn to pics of potential dates in the countryside, and swipe left to group shots where we can’t be sure who we’re matching with. Sounds like a good excuse for a weekend away in the country for a photoshoot!
Be in your mate’s corner
Neuroscientist Zarchary Mainen has penned an article for The Guardian, discussing how A set of coasters have gone viral recently, artificial intelligence could developed for Time to Change’s campaign help us better understand encouraging men to talk about mental depression and schizophrenia. health, launched in February 2017. I volunteer Computational neuroscience Found in a pub in Leeds, the coasters believes that all intelligent as tribute! said: “Is there a mate missing agents – human or artificial A new YouGov survey has around this table? Reach out to – face similar issues, and revealed that the majority him.” Next time you’re down the therefore their solutions of us would be willing pub, remember to check-in with your could be similar too. to donate organs and mates – it’s good to know someone’s blood for medical in your corner. research.
Work on it
79% of people believe their employers could be doing more to support their physical and mental wellbeing, according to a recent survey by Westfield Health. Moreover, 86% of people felt their employers weren’t doing enough to support their staff with work-related stress, anxiety and other mental health problems. Learn about mental health first aid training on p50.
Laugh it up Having a laugh with your colleagues could improve your work! According to Professor Sophie Scott from University College London, laughter signals that we’re in a state of relaxation, and research suggests that when our brains are relaxed we’re more creative. So don’t hold back on sharing a joke at your next meeting!
Dream on Intense lucid dreamers experience lower levels of psychological distress, according to new research published in Frontiers in Psychology. Researchers found that people who have intense lucid dreams – a dream state where you’re aware that you’re dreaming and can partially control the dream – had less depression, anxiety and stress than low-intensity lucid dreamers.
Gold medal-winning honesty The most decorated Olympian of all time, US swimmer Michael Phelps, has opened up about his depression, and how he contemplated suicide. Speaking to CBS News, the athlete said that speaking out about mental illness has been one of his most rewarding endeavours: “If I can save one life, two lives, a hundred lives, that’s way better than winning a gold medal.” June 2018 • happiful • 11
The Uplift | The Explainer
Shame piral? A family member you haven’t seen in a while leaves a comment on a photo you uploaded to Facebook, saying that they miss you. Do you: a) send them a message to find a date you can get together; or b) feel guilty that you haven’t seen them, declare yourself a selfish and thoughtless person, dwell on this all day, and replay the interaction over and over in your mind late into the night? Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
f the second option sounds familiar, you may have been experiencing a shame spiral. First coined by clinical psychologist Gershen Kaufman in his 1992 book Shame: The Power of Caring, shame spirals are triggered by an unsettling event. This could be something small, such as rejection from a friend or an off-hand comment from a colleague, up to, and including, cases of severe trauma. In response to this event, the focus turns inward as the initial event is played over and over again in our minds. We start
12 • happiful • June 2018
to spiral, and the more shame we feel, the more things we find to be ashamed of. Most of us will be able to relate to the experience of lying in bed at night, and inadvertently recalling every little embarrassing or awkward thing we have ever done. It’s frustrating, uncomfortable and, sometimes, painful. And once we start, it can be hard to stop. So why do we do it? “The questions implies that there is a conscious choice involved in the experience of shame,” says
Lucas Teague, counsellor and psychotherapist with more than a decade of experience behind him. “Shame is often symptomatic of something that has been ignored in the person’s life. It has a particular quality, which means it becomes far more difficult to relate to directly. The etymological meaning of the word shame, is ‘to hide’ or ‘cover up’.” For this reason, shame is a difficult emotion for us to communicate. It often comes out looking like something else, such as guilt, anger, or sadness.
000 c 000 00000 0000 0000 0000redit 0 00 00 0 0 xxxxx xx xx 00 x xx
Shame hurts us so much because it’s often tied to our sense of identity. When we shame ourselves, we’re making the judgement that we’re not good enough, or are not living up to expectations. For Lucas, our modern lifestyles could be in part to blame for compounding our experiences of shame. “We seem to be leading more insular lives,” he says. “That, along with our obsession with celebrities, who on the one hand present lives that can seem unattainable and yet, at the same time, possible through reality shows and social media. As such, our own lives can leave us with a sense of emptiness.” Sometimes, the best way to deal with our shame is to address it head
on. Why do you shame yourself when you eat a certain food, have an awkward encounter with a stranger, or are late getting home from work? To answer these questions, Lucas recommends mindfulness: “This means taking an interest in what we are thinking and feeling just as it is, without identifying it as something which has to be a reflection of who you are, or how you see yourself.” “It’s worth remembering that shame is often a symptom of something a person has not been addressing in their life,” adds Lucas. As such, if we, or someone close to us, find ourselves caught in shame spirals, the best way to help is to keep on asking questions. Question why that one thing made you feel
Shame is a difficult emotion to communicate. It often comes out looking like something else, such as guilt, anger, or sadness
that way, why it had such an effect, why it matters to you. “Questions can invite a deeper exploration of some of the themes which underlie the experience of shame,” Lucas says, “and help to support a different direction in our lives.” Of course, while shame is an unpleasant feeling, it’s also a very normal emotion. The point at which it becomes unhealthy is when it starts to effect the rest of our lives, preventing us from getting on with our days, and trapping us in a spiral of self-deprecating thoughts. Next time you find yourself in a shame spiral, check yourself. Let yourself off the hook, and remember that we all mess up from time to time – it’s what makes us human. June 2018 • happiful • 13
The Road to
For anyone seeking support and treatment for their mental health, the journey of recovery will be a unique experience, and for many people it’s not always straightforward. But whether you face relapses, or struggle to find the support that’s right for you, there is hope. Author and mental health campaigner Natasha Devon shares her insight into recovery, and advice based on her personal experience
ccording to the Mental Health Foundation, 10 million people have experienced a mental health problem in the past week. Mental health issues cover an incredibly broad remit, everything from work-related stress, right up to more long-term illnesses like schizophrenia, or anxiety,
14 • happiful • June 2018
depression, eating disorders, self-harm, addiction and many more. Yet they all have one thing in common: they all involve a process of recovery. Statistically, half of those who have one episode of depression or anxiety make a full recovery and never relapse. The other 50% are like me – I've had an anxiety disorder involving panic
attacks since I was 10 years old and, through a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes, I manage the peaks and troughs long-term, some weeks more successfully than others. Whatever category you are in, or stage you are at, here are some things I have learned about recovery that may help you on your own journey.
1 WHAT’S YOUR 'PRIMARY'?
Some symptoms are shared across mental illnesses, like low self-esteem. Similarly, it’s very common to experience depression and anxiety in tandem, or for people with eating disorders to also self-harm in more traditional ways. This can lead to difficulty in finding the right help. In private facilities, where they tend to have greater amounts of time and resources, they speak in terms of “primaries”. For example: “Do you drink to distract yourself from pre-existing feelings of depression? Or is your low mood a result of drinking too much alcohol, which we know to be a depressant?” Identifying your “primary” can be difficult, but it’s worth investing some time into, particularly in a climate where your GP is likely to be so overworked that they’ll be guided toward diagnosis by whichever symptoms you are able to describe to them during your allotted 10-minute slot.
Recovery usually involves a combination of factors that are unique to you 2 RECOVERY ISN’T ONE THING
Medication might initially put you on an even keel, but it’s not going to address the circumstances that led you to mental illness in the first place. The right therapist can work wonders, but their efficacy is increased immensely if you have a supportive network of friends and family around you. Additionally, many people find adding self-care techniques into the mix, like yoga or massage, gives them the right balance. If a “quick fix” seems too good to be true, that probably means it is. Recovery usually involves a combination of factors that are unique to you.
3 IT’S LIKE KNITTING
Too often, mental health stories are presented in the media in binary terms, with a person’s historical symptoms described in graphic detail, and then a quick acknowledgement at the end telling us they’re now “better”. This can leave you feeling devastated if you have a relapse, because you think everyone else got it right first time. The reality is that recovery often involves several “wobbles”. Yet each stage leaves us with more information and psychological tools at our disposal than we had before. A set-back, be it a drinking binge, an episode of self-harm, or the odd day where getting out of bed seems like an impossibility, is therefore like dropping a stitch in knitting – just because the stitch has been dropped, it doesn’t mean you haven’t already knitted a row.
4 IT’S AN ABSENCE, NOT A PRESENCE
The idea that you need something additional in order to “achieve” recovery can be a dangerous one. For me, recovery was less about acquisition and more about absence. Slowly, I realised I was beginning to re-emerge. The pain diminished, the compensatory behaviours began to slow, the incidents during which I felt like I was watching myself act strangely or hurtfully dwindled, until I could finally breathe again. As Russell Brand says in his book of the same name: “There is a reason it is called ‘recovery’, it is the process of recovering the person you were always meant to be.”
5 NEVER GIVE UP
There’s a lot of bad advice out there, especially in the age of Dr Google. There’s also a lot of good advice that simply won’t work for you. If you don’t think your GP has the right training, ask to see another one. If your therapy or medication isn’t working, try a different type. Above all, never give up on the belief that you can (and deserve to be) well, functioning and truly living your best life. Natasha Devon MBE is a campaigner, speaker and author. Find out more at natashadevon.com and read her new book, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental’ out now (Bluebird, £12.99)
June 2018 • happiful • 15
16 • happiful • June 2018
Before finding fame on Love Island two years ago, Olivia Buckland was on a mission of self-destruction and was consumed by anxiety, distrust and anger. As the must-see ITV2 reality show returns this month, Olivia tells Happiful how fame has brought her a second chance in life, and why her fiancé Alex Bowen is the true love she has been waiting a lifetime for…
Interview | Gemma Calvert
Photography | Joseph Sinclair
June 2018 • happiful • 17
I was shut down, I was the trophy, I wasn’t allowed to speak or have an opinion. My confidence was in tatters
Jumpsuit by Maje | Shoes by Kurt Geiger
In the Spotlight | Olivia Buckland
Dress | Beulah London, Earrings | Soru Jewellery, Shoes | Pretty Ballerina
18 • happiful • June 2018
hen I meet Olivia Buckland, she is a compelling vision of metallic navy blue lipstick, five-inch platform boots, and a T-shirt shouting “Pretty Woman” on the front. As reality stars go, she is not one to comfortably go unnoticed. It’s been this way for two years, since Olivia, 24, fell in crazy, high-speed love with her now-fiancé Alex Bowen on the second series of ITV2’s Love Island. Following a six-week romance, the couple finished second, and simultaneously earned the title of the series’ most insatiable couple, after racking up the most sex sessions (on screen, no less). There are, it seems, no regrets. The pair moved in together within a few weeks, got engaged after four months, and have won a string of endorsement, modelling and fashion deals between them. Former sales executive Olivia has presented on ITV1’s This Morning, recently landed her own TLC show Second Chance Dresses, and has her own clothing collaboration with high street brand Quiz. “This life isn’t normal to most people, but it’s now normal to me and I love it,” she smiles. “When I was little, I wanted to be a model but I was too short – but now I’m doing it. Three years ago I’d have never thought I’d be on the cover of a magazine, but look at me now! I’ve gone through a bit of a nightmare, but I’m proof that what you’ve done in your past does not hinder you from doing anything in the future. I feel so proud.” Olivia’s appearance on Love Island is like the scene in Pretty Woman (maybe that’s why she’s got the T-shirt) when Julia Roberts’ character arrives dressed to kill on Rodeo Drive, and her bad luck suddenly flips. From the moment Olivia set foot in the smash-hit show’s luxury Mallorca villa, she was on a transformational upward journey, finally able to distance herself from a trail of destruction after a relationship with an emotionally abusive and cheating ex. “I was shut down, I was the trophy, I wasn’t allowed to speak or have an opinion. My confidence was in tatters,” says Olivia, recalling the two-year romance. “One New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t allowed to be with my friends and at midnight he said ‘f***ing kiss me’ then walked off. I was in love and blind to the fact that it was so wrong, and although I knew he was cheating I was scared to leave, scared of the rejection. When you feel
so alone in a relationship, you cling on to the person even though they’re not very nice. But at that moment on New Year’s Eve something clicked. I knew I had to get out.” In the weeks that followed, free from the constraints of her controlling ex-partner, Olivia crumbled. The anxiety she had been suffering with previously spiralled and, unable to stomach food, she turned to mealreplacement shakes. Within three months, her weight had plummeted by two stone, although she denies that she had an eating disorder. “It wasn’t the relationship with food,” she says. “I wanted to eat so badly, but I couldn’t because I felt constantly sick because of the anxiety.” At an appointment with her GP, Olivia refused the offer of talking therapy – “I didn’t feel like I needed help” – and was prescribed antidepressants. Then, after another fruitless stab at the relationship, she finally hit rock bottom. “I started to go off the rails. Living on my own in a really emotional state, that was the downfall. I was out a lot, partying a lot and had no respect for myself,” she says. “I had a lot of kept-in aggression and was very irritable and couldn’t deal with things. I wanted to destroy everything and I didn’t want to see anyone, not even my family.” She adds: “At one point I was so bad that I wasn’t invited to my brother’s [Jacob, 26] birthday. I was such a nightmare that they didn’t want me there. I just didn’t have the tools to cope with my emotions.” Olivia’s saviour was Love Island – the Caroline Flackfronted reality show where singletons couple-up for £50,000, and anything goes. She applied after splitting from her ex “to do something different and have fun” and was, to her surprise, selected for series two. One week before filming began, during “lock down” (a producer-imposed isolation period to stop reality stars’ identities leaking to press) Olivia read The Chimp Paradox by psychiatrist Steve Peters – a mindmanagement programme, which helps you train the irrational, emotional side of your personality (the “chimp”). Professor Peters’ method is so powerful that sporting elites, including the British cycling team, and snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, employ him to prepare them mentally for competitions. For Olivia, who says her chimp “Candy” is now better understood, the teachings were profound. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 19
“Honestly, the book changed me as a person. I still get irritable and I get angry – if I didn’t then I wouldn’t be human – but I now control those emotions. I’ve learned that when I get angry it’s not Olivia talking, it’s Candy – the side that’s a bit irresponsible and a bit irritating.” I enquire whether this is the first time Olivia has truly analysed her inner self. She nods. “The very first time.” Olivia's new mindful approach to thinking has also helped her manage the panic attacks that have plagued her since her first episode at 16, when after a vaccination she felt “hot and tingly”, and passed out in her mum’s bedroom, fearing she was dying. “I’ve learned what and who my triggers are,” explains Olivia. “I get hot suddenly, I feel a shiver all through my body, then a fuzzy feeling and my heart starts to go. If I can recognise the signs, before I start to lose control of my breathing, it’s easy to claw it back. I had a panic attack in Love Island that I controlled.” She credits her mum Sarah, 51, for helping her understand her mental health complexities, which she believes are hereditary. Sarah, Olivia’s grandmother, and her auntie, all have an underactive thyroid, which causes a hormonal imbalance widely linked to depression, anxiety and fatigue. Olivia was diagnosed with the problem at 10, and has been medicated with Thyrocsin ever since. “My thyroid will never be at a stable state, so a lot of what I go through has links to that,” she explains. “In school I used to be in the toilet, crying on my own. I’ve always slightly had a depressive state in me, and my mum always says ‘it’s not about what you’ve had in your life, it can be hereditary.’” Olivia has never sought therapy, preferring instead to turn to her mum for counsel. Should she one day become a mum to a girl who experiences
20 • happiful • June 2018
anxiety or depression, what will she do? “I would just hope to be the same mum as my mum was,” says Olivia. “Being able to talk to someone is the only thing you ever need.” Olivia and I are sharing a sofa in her manager’s studio apartment in central London, where Jo Malone candles burn mid-afternoon. She arrived a tad flustered about attending a movie premiere that evening (“I feel physically sick and can’t eat”), but later declares that the anticipation of such showbiz events is always “too much” until she implements her Chimp Paradox teachings and pulls back her anxiety. “Anxiety is just a feeling,” she explains. “Once you can put that feeling in a box and tie a bow on it, you can deal with it.” It was Olivia who identified that Alex was experiencing anxiety too, an issue brought on after he swapped being a scaffolder for a life in the spotlight. “He felt sick every time he went out, and I said: ‘You do know that’s a bit of anxiety? You feel sick, you’re hot, you don’t want to go out, you can’t eat and you’ve got a dry mouth – that’s anxiety,” recalls Olivia. “Alex is really insecure. You look at him and think ‘Why?’, but he lost so much weight when he came out of Love Island, and because he was bullied for being skinny when he was little, he got anxiety because of the way he looked. He now goes to the gym every day to make himself feel good, which is a his way of dealing with it.” I purport that while fame triggered Alex’s problems, being in the public eye appears to be promoting strength and confidence in Olivia. Over the past three months, save for one “bad day” where she felt she needed it, she has not touched her medication. “I’ve got so many positive things in my life – like being a TV presenter, something I’ve dreamed of being for so long. Continues >>>
Dress by Michael Kors
In the Spotlight | Olivia Buckland
Anxiety is just a feeling. Once you can put that feeling in a box and tie a bow on it, you can deal with it
June 2018 • happiful • 21
In the Spotlight | Olivia Buckland
I make mistakes, I’ll say the wrong thing, I’ll look how I do, and I do normal things! People love imperfections, they just don’t want to admit it
Jumpsuit by Reiss Hair & Makeup | Lo Dias using Nars, YSL and Mark Hill Styling | Krishan Parmar
22 • happiful • June 2018
“I thought: ‘Why do I rely on something when I don’t rely on anything else in my life?’” she explains. “A lot of it is also because of Alex. He’s given me inner confidence because he accepts me for who I am, through and through.” One week before her interview, Alex joined Olivia on her Happiful photoshoot and it was easy to see the appeal; he is easy on the eye and friendly with a lovely manner, although Olivia admits that when they first met she wasn’t sold, believing that all men were “evil” and resigned to the fact that she would never marry or have kids. Now look at her. She shrieks when I ask her to talk me through the marriage proposal, which happened in December 2016 on a private terrace overlooking New York’s One World Trade Centre, complete with champagne, chocolates and roses. “When I walked out I cried because I thought it was a treat for my birthday a couple of days later. Then he got down on one knee in front of the skyline and I screamed ‘yes’ in his face! He bought the ring eight weeks after we came out of Love Island and hid it for three months. I guess he was very sure.” The couple live together in Chelmsford, Essex, with their French Bulldog Reggie, and although the September wedding is “all organised, sort of ”, Olivia isn’t fussed about jumping into motherhood – right now, her career and enjoying the “honeymoon period” with Alex is her priority. A relationship in the public eye doesn’t come without pressure. Once they were living in the real world, Olivia initially struggled with feelings of jealousy, especially when Alex was doing nightclub appearances where having photographs with female partygoers is par for the course. “I was a nightmare. I’d get jealous over absolutely nothing,” admits Olivia, adding that Alex was always sympathetic to her insecurities. “He did 150 PAs in 150 nightclubs and came home after every single one, and made sure that I felt comfortable 99.9% of the time. I’m quite difficult sometimes, but he’s so patient with me.” One thing Olivia isn’t is self-conscious. Raised by a dancer mother, a healthy role model who promoted body confidence, she never once negatively compared herself to the other girls on Love Island (“I thought ‘she’s good looking’ not ‘I wish I was her’”). Then earlier this year, when trolls labelled Olivia’s size 10 bikini body “fat” after pictures emerged of her and Alex on holiday in Barbados, she hit back, saying: “Around 95% of trolls said I was fat
and had cellulite, which worries me because comments like that might affect other girls who could think, “I have cellulite too, that must mean I'm disgusting as well.” With 1.4 million followers on Instagram alone, Olivia takes her new job as a role model “so seriously” and says her favourite thing about fame is that she can be “so influential”. Yet when she points out that she has never wanted to change herself to the point where “I’ve done anything about it”, I remind her of the lip fillers treatment she had two years ago, a botched procedure that left her with facial scarring. “That’s when I split up with my ex, I did it because he wouldn’t let me have them. I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair either so when we split up I cut my long hair. I let rip.” Would she entertain cosmetic surgery now? “No,” she replies. I like Olivia. She’s sincere, funny and intuitive. For example, at the age of 10 she guessed her parents were divorcing after spotting them sleeping in pyjamas “instead of the nuddy”. Best of all, Olivia holds her hands up when she messes up. The day before we meet, she landed in hot water after using the word “homo” to comment on an Instagram gym selfie of Alex and a mate. “It thoroughly upset me that I could be so stupid to say something that would offend people without realising. I need to educate myself on that so, for me, it’s a lesson learned,” she concedes. Surely, though, nobody expects Olivia to be flawless. After all, she didn’t get famous by winning a ballet competition but on the UK’s the most controversial reality show where, lest we forget, she and Alex got jiggy umpteen times on camera. “I did and people look up to me because I’m so normal,” replies Olivia. “I make mistakes, I’ll say the wrong thing, I’ll look how I do, and I do normal things! People love imperfections, they just don’t want to admit it!” Deciding to speak openly about her anxiety has, insists Olivia, been one of her most sensible decisions to date. “The first time that I talked about it, I got an influx of messages from girls and boys of all ages – a dentist and a doctor even messaged me saying ‘you’ve enabled me to speak about it’,” she smiles – it’s one of pride. “When you’ve got a platform of 1.4 million people following you, why not use it?” Keep up-to-date with Olivia and her wedding plans with Alex on Instagram and Twitter @oliviadbuck
June 2018 • happiful • 23
Charity of the Month
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support By 2020, their aim is to reduce the number of babies dying by at least 20%; Sands is the charity working to support families through tragedy, and investing in research to develop treatments and reduce the number of deaths
Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
eath is still a taboo subject in our society, particularly baby death because people find it hard to relate to,” says Dr Clea Harmer, the Chief Executive of Sands (the stillbirth and neonatal death charity) which is the organisation transforming the way we talk, think, and support people after the death of a baby.
24 • happiful • June 2018
Every day in the UK, 15 babies die before, during or soon after birth. The pain of dealing with the death of a baby is unique, and devastation ripples out to touch all those involved. Sands is here to help parents through bereavement with its three core aims: to offer support and information, campaign for better facilities in units, and to fund research to reduce the number of babies dying every day.
Image | sands.org.uk
There is a lot that we can learn about bereavement support, safer pregnancy, and even medical treatment, by giving those affected by baby loss a voice
HOW SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT THE DEATH OF A BABY TO BEREAVED PARENTS? “The truth is, most parents just want their baby’s existence to be acknowledged," Clea tells us, "and usually welcome the opportunity to talk about their baby.”
With a background in higher education and medicine, Clea joined Sands in July 2016. For her, it’s vital that we take the lead from those who have experienced a bereavement themselves. “There is a lot that we can learn about bereavement support, safer pregnancy, and even medical treatment, by giving those affected by baby loss a voice,” Clea tells us. “Sands wants to break the silence and encourage people to talk openly about the death of a baby.” BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT A 2016 audit conducted by Sands found that 62% of maternity units have at least one bereavement support midwife, and 63% of units have a dedicated bereavement room. While these figures are promising, and growing every year, there are still cases where parents will be without immediate support if their baby dies. By working with bereaved parents to design bereavement rooms, Sands hopes to provide them with an appropriate place to mourn. As a result of conversations with parents, it campaigns to make sure that rooms are: located away from other expectant or new mothers, or soundproofed; equipped with suitable facilities for the mother and family to stay; and have a cooling facility in the room, so parents can spend time with their baby if they wish. The charity also offers free resources for families coping with the death of a baby, including memory boxes, a free helpline, an online community, and regular support group meetings run by those who have gone through a bereavement themselves.
Do: •U se the baby’s name – it’s important to acknowledge them. •R emember the baby’s birthdays. The parents may need more support around this time. •O ffer to help parents with the little things, like the weekly shop or cleaning the house. •A llow the parents to lead and listen to their needs. If they need you, you'll be there, and if they need some space, you’ll take a step back. Don’t: •S ay anything that suggests that the baby is replaceable, such as: “You’ll have another baby,” or “At least one of the twins survived.” •S kirt around the issue. Avoid talking about an “event”, or ‘“losing your baby”.
But resources aren’t limited to just the parents. Sands offers support to other children, grandparents, friends, employers, and medical professionals. “The death of a baby can affect people in many different ways,” says Clea. To highlight this, during Sands Awareness Month 2017, the charity interviewed 15 different people for their “15 Perspectives” series. “A bereaved mother may have a partner, parents, siblings, other children of her own, friends and work colleagues,” Clea notes. “We wanted to raise awareness that the death of a baby affects a number of different people from different backgrounds.” Continues June 2018 • happiful • 25
Charity of the Month
Emma Kedge and her husband
Dr Clea Harmer
RESEARCH At the core of the charity is the research it funds, looking into the causes of stillbirth and neonatal death, and working to develop treatments and preventative methods. Working with limited funds, Sands collaborates with researchers to agree and prioritise projects. “Effective preventive treatment could also lead to a reduction in the risk of death,” says Clea. “More research is desperately needed to save as many as possible of the 15 babies who die each day in the UK.” Clea points to three projects in particular that have achieved life-changing breakthroughs: MiNESS (the Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Study) looked at whether there are differences in habits between women who have a stillbirth and those who don’t. It confirmed a link between the position a woman goes to sleep in during the last trimester, and her risk of stillbirth. This has resulted in new advice to pregnant women to sleep on their side. POPS (the Pregnancy Outcomes Prediction study) investigated whether having additional ultrasound scans in the third trimester of pregnancy can help to identify babies who are smaller than expected, and looked for ultrasound measurements which may predict babies at increased risk of stillbirth. The study 26 • happiful • June 2018
showed that universal use of ultrasound roughly tripled the detection of babies who were smaller than they should be. The findings are significant for improving detection of apparently low-risk pregnancies that are, in fact, high-risk. The Insight study used parents’ and health professionals’ experiences to help decide on the most important elements of bereavement care. The findings have provided an evidence base to support better delivery of bereavement care in the UK. EMMA’S STORY Now Chair of the Surrey Sands support group, Emma Kedge got involved in the charity when her baby died at 38 weeks: “On the day that my pregnancy reached 38 weeks, I woke feeling groggy and that I couldn't remember my baby moving as usual before I fell asleep the night before. My husband reassured me that babies slow down before labour, and we had a routine appointment later that day. “The midwife was keen to check for a heartbeat as soon as I mentioned my concern. I lay there waiting for that sound, but we couldn't find it. For reassurance, the midwife sent us to the hospital. On reflection I should have known, but in reality,
Join Sands’ campaign using the hashtag #15babiesaday to join the conversation, and visit sands.org.uk to support its life-changing research
from every copy of this issue sold in a subscription goes to Sands
I never imagined my baby was already gone. It took the sonographer a second to say, ‘I’m sorry’, and my world fell to pieces. My baby boy had died. “I was induced and my son, Oscar, was born peacefully in the early hours of the morning. He took my breath away. I don’t know what I expected, but he was truly gorgeous. We spent time with him, touched every part of him, sang to him, and adored him. My husband and I both agreed that we wanted to remember Oscar looking like a ‘normal’ baby, and so as time started to pass, we decided to say goodbye. “Moments after we had been ushered on to the labour ward, our midwife brought us a little white bag from Sands. It included two teddies (one for baby, one for us), two teddy bear charms, a beautiful poem card, boxes for baby’s hair and hospital name badge, a scented candle and, most importantly, information booklets. That small white bag was our lifeline at a time when we were so lost and shocked. “Later we attended Sands support groups, and felt enormous relief at being surrounded by people who knew the pain. When we looked for somewhere to lay Oscar to rest, we found a cemetery that had a beautiful garden created by Sands for babies to be remembered, with baby graves nearby. Sands recognises and acknowledges my baby, and all of the pain that came with his stillbirth. Being part of Sands, even now, is how I stay close to Oscar.”
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF BABIES DYING BY AT LEAST 20% BEFORE 2020 It’s a life-changing target, and it’s the vision of Sands. “My own nephew was stillborn 26 years ago, and I know first-hand the pain and distress this has caused,” says Clea. “I believe passionately that we should be trying to reduce the number of babies dying, and ensuring that all those affected by the death of a baby receive the best possible care and support.” From the staff and researchers, to the volunteers and fundraisers who give up their time for free, it’s the enormous energy, passion and commitment of all those involved with the charity that propels Sands to offer exceptional support in moments when it’s needed the most. June is Sands Awareness Month. Use the hashtag #15babiesaday to join the conversation and help raise awareness for the 15 babies who die every day. Sands supports anyone affected by the death of a baby. You can call its free phone helpline on 0808 164 3332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate, find out more, or download free information booklets, visit sands.org.uk June 2018 • happiful • 27
TAKE YOUR TIME “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down” – Jane Wagner
Photography | Gaelle Marcel
Photography | And Then She Clicked
Seeing a future after loss Discovering you’re pregnant should be an exciting experience, but what do you do when the unimaginable happens? How do you get through the day when your baby has died? In 2016, Jodie Blackman and her family lost their baby girl Evelyn. But with support from Sands and their loved ones, Jodie’s family is now stronger than ever
y husband Lee and I have been together 11 years, and married for six. Four children later, we’re stronger than ever. After some tragic events in our lives that would tear a lot of families apart, we’ve been able to cling on to each other like never before. We met in 2007 and quickly became a very settled couple; we moved in together after a year, and found out I was pregnant with our first child in 2010. I suffer with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), so was advised to start a family young as it can take a while to fall pregnant. At only 21 years old I was a little scared of the unknown, but I knew with Lee by my side, and our family’s support, we could be the best parents. In January 2011, our gorgeous daughter Luna was born, who quickly captured our hearts and was a daddy’s girl from day one!
Lee and I married in June 2012 and, with Luna there watching, it was a magical day – finally we were a “proper” family unit. We wanted a small age gap between our children, so started trying again as soon as we were married. We thought it would take a while because of the PCOS, but after our honeymoon I started getting those tell-tale symptoms. Fast forward to April 2013 and we welcomed our baby boy Jude into the world. He slotted into our family perfectly. Luna loved her brother and always wanted to “help” me with feeds! 2015 came and Luna went off to school, and I really missed the dynamic of having both children at home. Three children was always my dream – Lee took a little more convincing. He eventually came round to my reasoning that when we’re old and grey it’ll be lovely to have lots of children to look after us! Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 29
Jodie’s Story We began trying for our third child and I fell pregnant after a few months. Unfortunately this pregnancy wasn’t meant to be and I had an early miscarriage. We had only known I was pregnant for a few days, so our happiness was very quickly snatched away from us. We didn’t really have a discussion about trying again for another baby, we just knew that’s what we wanted – I think even more so after the loss. In 2016, I fell pregnant again. It wasn’t the easiest of starts, as I bled until about 12 weeks, but I had regular scans to reassure me that our baby was alive and well. The first seven months flew by, before we had another devastating blow. We knew we were having a girl this time and the children were ecstatic to be getting a baby sister. At my 31-week midwife appointment, she was concerned my bump was a little larger than it should be, so referred me for a growth scan the next day. I wasn’t concerned at all, as Luna and Jude were above average weights, so I just assumed she was going to be a big baby too. However, I went to that appointment only to be told that she had a brain abnormality, and that I had to have further tests at St George’s Hospital in London. Being told there was something wrong with our baby was heartbreaking. As a mum I was supposed to be keeping her safe and well inside me, but we were soon to find out that she wasn’t very well at all. After multiple visits to St George’s for scans, MRI and an amniocentesis, they found numerous brain abnormalities with our baby girl, caused by a chromosome deletion. The list of problems was endless and we were advised that she was not viable
After being checked over, we were able spend some time just cuddling and staring at her, trying to take in every little detail of her before we had to say our goodbyes
30 • happiful • June 2018
for life outside the womb. I had no idea how to cope with this news myself, let alone how to break it to our kids. Lee took the lead on this, and I’ll be forever thankful to him that I didn’t have to say those words to my other babies. Late on 29 October, I started getting contractions and we made our way to the hospital. We were shown through to, what I now know is called, the bereavement suite. The midwife went through lots of options about what I wanted to happen in birth and after. She gave me a booklet called When Your Baby Dies Before Birth, provided by the charity Sands. It was a tough read when I was so unaware of what was to come in the next few hours, but that booklet has stayed with me and it’s something I still read occasionally now. It takes me back to a very scared and anxious time, but it also helps me to remember parts of labour that I had otherwise blocked out. At 33 +3 weeks pregnant, on 30 October 2016, our sweet baby girl Evelyn Jean was born. She weighed 4lbs 12oz and was such a mixture of her big sister and brother. After being checked over, we were able to dress her and wrap her up in a blanket my mum had bought for her, and spend some time just cuddling and staring at her, trying to take in every little detail of her before we had to say our goodbyes.
The bereavement midwives were amazing throughout the whole process. We were given a memory box – again provided by Sands. Inside were more information booklets – we still refer back to these whenever we need a bit of guidance. There were two teddy bears inside; one to stay with Evelyn and one to come home with us. It provided us with the tools to take a hand and foot print of our baby – something I hadn’t even thought of doing. It encouraged us to make memories with her, and supported us throughout any future decisions we were going to have to make. After leaving the hospital, organising and having a funeral for Evelyn, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I was supposed to be at home caring for our newborn daughter and her two siblings, but instead I was just finding ways to cope with getting up each day. Lee was put in touch with a guy, through a mutual friend, who had lost a son before birth too. He very quickly became a lifeline for Lee – someone who could relate to everything Lee was feeling and offer support. We met up with Jay and his wife, Leigh, and became friends instantly. It’s amazing that through our losses we have found a lifelong friendship. As a parent to a baby that isn’t alive, you have a fear that people will forget about them, and I know Leigh felt that too. We decided to keep their memories alive through a family fun day, with all money raised being donated to Sands, to provide even just one person with a memory box, and help break the taboo of talking about our lost babies. In July 2017, with the help of our family, friends and the very generous public, we raised more than £6,000. We had a football match, bouncy castle, live music, raffle, and an auction. I hope the money we raised has gone on to help other families in a similar position to us. At the time it’s just booklets and words, but in hindsight I couldn’t have done without those words. We have since attended a couple of Sands support meetings and have also found that talking to other parents, who may have a few years more experience on the roller coaster that is grief, has helped
Balloons released at Jodie’s fundraiser, in memor y of her daughter Evelyn, and her friends’ son Jayden
massively. There can be light at the end of the tunnel – you just need the right support around you. We now find ourselves eight months pregnant with our fourth baby, still supported by Sands and their Rainbow baby groups. Although it’s been an anxious time for us, we have the best support around us and two lifelong friends in Jay and Leigh who continue to help us. I will be forever thankful to Sands in helping to guide us to a place where we could see a happy future in life after loss. Evelyn will always be a huge part of our family and will never be replaced or forgotten.
Our Expert Says Jodie and Lee’s story underlines the importance of reaching out in adversity. They were fortunate to be able to draw on their strong relationship, professional support, and new friends to help them find a way through their confusion and grief. Grief is not a brief process, but as Jodie points out, the person lost remains a part of your life, which can help you find a way forward. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story Jodie, and wishing you and your growing family all the best.
Fe Robinson MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
June 2018 • happiful • 31
Changing the Tune
The Power of Song: How the music industry is embracing mental health
It’s no secret that the music industry is a temperamental beast. One minute a band will be playing sold-out gigs night after night, the next they’ll be spending hours networking on social media just to try to fill the smallest of venues. And it’s not just the musicians themselves affected, but the crew behind the scenes away from home for long periods of time, and fans facing fears of isolation or safety concerns about attending festivals. But a call to action has rung out, and the music industry is taking note – change is coming Writing | Shaun Brown
harting the ups and downs of a life in the music industry can present a wide array of challenges, and it’s not just those providing the entertainment who face issues. Along with musicians, the tour crew must also learn to cope with feelings of anxiety, stress and exhaustion; and be it stress over the financial impact of supporting your favourite artists, or even problems with addiction, being a fan is not always easy either. Music can, however, provide a vital outlet for people to express themselves, be themselves, and connect with like-minded people, whether at gigs, in clubs or even in the workplace! So in this article, we’re going to look at both the high and low notes, to see just how the music industry is orchestrating its response to the mental health issues of all those involved.
32 • happiful • June 2018
Photography | Ross Silcocks
The camp is designed to make attending a major festival on your own feel less daunting
In the Crowd
he perfect place for music fans to let their collective hair down is at one of the many festivals that dominate the British summertime. From the world famous Glastonbury, to mainstream mecca T in the Park, or rock and metal behemoth Download, spending a few days in a field listening to your favourite artists is often the highlight of the year for many of us. But what happens when none of your friends want to go to the same event as you? What if you’re consumed with anxiety after reading festival horror stories online? To tackle the problem of people having to attend festivals on their own, Download have dedicated a section of their campsite to provide camping space for anyone without a group to attend with. Named “Camp Loner”, festival promoter Andy Copping couldn’t be happier with its success. “Knowing there’s a welcoming space dedicated to our Download family who fly in solo is so important to us,” he says. “The camp is designed to make attending a major festival on your own feel less daunting, knowing there’s the opportunity to meet like-minded rock fans to enjoy the weekend with.” But anxiety over attending a festival can extend beyond those of us who actually have a ticket. For parents there are a million and one questions and concerns you might have, especially if you’ve not experienced festival culture yourself. To allay these fears, most festivals, such as Reading Festival and Latitude, have welfare tents to offer 24-hour support from experienced staff who can provide advice about drugs, alcohol and sexual health. There are a whole host of websites that provide safety tips as well, and taking the time to have a good look through them before putting your wellies on can help to put worried minds at ease! Visit eventwelfare. co.uk/festival-survival-guide to get started. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 33
Changing the Tune
On the Road
hen it comes to the artists themselves, constant touring and being in the public eye can bring a unique set of challenges. “Being on the road can be exhausting. Everyone knows what it feels like even with a holiday; it’s a lot of organisation and leaving your life at home is hard,” says singer-songwriter Rae Morris [pictured right], whose recent rise to prominence has resulted in added pressure to succeed. “Many elements come together to cause momentary bursts of anxiety. I find that I need constant contact with home in order to remember that it’s not permanent, and the chaos does subside as a rhythm is established.” “It’s impossible to feel good every day, regardless of any pressures or stresses, and when you’re in close proximity with people for 24 hours a day, everything can get on top of you,” Rae continues. “I’ve learned that I’ll never completely have the touring thing down. I feel differently on every tour, but that’s what’s so exciting! You’ve just got to stay in tune with your body and mind, and make changes if and when something doesn’t feel right.” While recording her album Someone Out There, a gesture from a fan raised Rae’s spirits, and made her aware of how music can have a positive impact on our mental health. “One of my fans sent me thoughtful handmade gifts to the studio at a time when I needed reminding why I was making music, and it changed my outlook on my entire album-making process.” And it’s those same fans who can make a real difference to an artist who’s away from friends and family, in need of a mental boost. “Meeting fans in person is always really special, to communicate with them and hear their honest reaction to the music,” Rae notes. “That always makes me quite emotional because I can’t believe how enthusiastic and articulate people can be! I try to absorb as much of that positive energy as I can, and save it for the next gig.” Rae’s advice to up-and-coming musicians? “Have a team around you who consider both your physical and mental health. Long days in the studio, and not enough days off, can have a serious effect,” she says. “Accept who you are and trust your instinct. Everything will feel much easier, and the listeners will benefit from a richer, more genuine end result – your amazing music and talent.”
34 • happiful • June 2018
I can’t believe how enthusiastic and articulate people can be! I try to absorb as much of that positive energy as I can, and save it for the next gig
Photography | DJ: Ross Silcocks, Festival: Sarah Koury
nsuring the positive mental health of artists is an increasingly vital component of allowing the music industry to flourish in 2018. “Festivals are amazingly stimulating places, and can be hugely enjoyable to work at. However the pressure of touring, as an artist, crew, or anybody working onsite, can be tough,” says Matt Thomas, one of Music Support’s trustees – an organisation looking to provide support to artists in need. “The working hours, sleeping conditions, party atmosphere, and the adrenaline rush and comedown, can all be contributing factors to states of anxiety or depression, loneliness and isolation, and can be hard for those with substance misuse issues, or in recovery. “Music Support ‘Safe Tents’ are returning to festivals across the summer to provide a space where anybody can stop for a chat in an alcohol-free environment, with people who understand the festival atmosphere and are trained to provide help and support.” Historically, there hasn’t been much help available for those in the music industry, but as the world starts to treat mental health with the importance it deserves, a key change is coming. Across the pond, Talinda Bennington has played a pivotal role in publicising Give an Hour’s 320 Changes Direction project, which aims to tackle the stigma around mental health by addressing issues such as addiction and depression. Talinda’s husband Chester, frontman for rock pioneers Linkin Park, took his own life in July 2017. This new project will provide support to anyone who is struggling, or who doesn’t know where to turn. Closer to home, the Help Musicians UK initiative has a helpline for all musicians, from emerging artists looking for training, to retired artists with financial difficulties, to problems such as hearing loss. Find out more at helpmusicians.org.uk Continues >>>
Give an Hour “Give an Hour is a US-based, non-profit organisation that provides free mental health services by harnessing the expertise and generosity of mental health professionals, and literally asking them to ‘give an hour’ each week to those in need. “We launched the campaign to Change Direction in 2015, because we realised that to ensure those in need receive the support they deserve, we must change the culture around mental health so that everyone is free to see their emotional wellbeing as being as important as their physical wellbeing. “Artists within the music industry – and those who support them – are particularly at risk from high levels of stress because of the demands of the profession. In addition, the music industry may unintentionally place those who may be vulnerable in situations that lead to unhealthy levels of substance use and possible addiction. One of the goals of 320 Changes Direction is to ensure that families dealing with emotional pain and mental health challenges are aware of the support and resources available to them, to help them help those they love.” – Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD, founder and president of Give an Hour
June 2018 • happiful • 35
Changing the Tune
Singer-songwriter Toby Leonard has tackled mental health head-on with his honest and very personal lyrics, and he’s a big believer in addressing your issues by getting in touch with your creative side. “Not only is making music the best outlet to combat stress, but I found that I focused my negativity to turn it into creativity. I wouldn’t have been able to write an album of honest, painful and moving music without going through my darkest times, and as a result it really helped to heal my broken mind. I think there is a direct link between listening to sad music that you can relate to, and getting yourself out of a bad place. But for me, I didn’t start to get better until I wrote about my deepest, darkest thoughts from a more creative perspective.”
hile there are still clear, prevalent issues throughout the music industry when it comes to mental health, the increasing amount of help on offer for musicians, fans, and everybody in between, demonstrates an incredibly promising step in the right direction. With high profile figures, both in and outside of the industry, coming forward to talk about their issues, ending the stigma surrounding mental health in the music business is no longer a pipe dream – it’s a realistic, achievable goal. Whether you’re into pop or grime, country or metal, the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a music community is something that is arguably unrivalled by any other facet of the entertainment world. If all of these splintered communities can come together and take a collective stand to promote positive mental health, then the possibility of healing people through music could soon become a wonderful reality.
36 • happiful • June 2018
Photography | Toby Leonard: Lawrence Allan Wheeler, Rolling Wheels Photography, Festival: Ross Silcocks
Use this simple breathing exercise to soothe stress and relax. Begin by either sitting or lying down, and repeat until you feel calm: 1. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest 2. Take a deep breath and count to four as you breathe in 3. Hold your breath for the count of seven 4. Breathe out completely for the count of eight
Photography | Irina
Leaving a Legacy
Liz’s wonderful daughter, Lucy
When your world falls apart When Liz De Oliveira got the worst news imaginable, that her beloved daughter Lucy had taken her own life, she was living a never-ending nightmare. But Liz refuses to allow her daughter to have died in vain – she wants to speak out for all those affected by suicide, and change the narrative around mental illness
y heart sank as I approached my home; I had already received numerous missed calls from my son, Alexander, and the police car parked outside my house was not a good omen. The two officers took me hurriedly inside and told me that their visit was concerning my daughter Lucy, 22, who was studying to be a paediatric nurse at John Moores University in Liverpool. Their faces told me everything, so I just asked them point blank: “Is Lucy dead?” The female officer replied: “I am so sorry but yes – she killed herself in her student accommodation this evening.”
38 • happiful • June 2018
I felt my whole world implode. I could hear myself screaming – a primeval scream that seemed to come from the very bottom of my soul. Lucy and her brother Alex, 26, were the centre of my universe. I had walked out of an unhappy marriage when Lucy was just two months old, and Alex was three. Life had not been easy for us; we were homeless so had to live in a hostel, and bringing up two very young children alone was a demanding, full-time role. I was determined to set my children a positive role model though, so when Lucy was one, I enrolled at the local
Lucy was a nurturing, caring girl who had time for everyone college to study law, and went on to gain a First Class Honours Degree at university. I spent another two years completing the gruelling training to qualify as a barrister – thank goodness for the invaluable support of my mother and friends in looking after the children. Although money was tight, we were a very close family, and I ensured that we always spent quality time together – the housework was frequently ignored so that we could go out for adventures, paddling in streams, running up hills and taking picnics together in the woods. Every parent thinks that their child is special, but Lucy truly was. From a young age her caring nature shone through, whether it was visiting our elderly neighbours for a chat or taking children who were targeted by the bullies under her wing. Lucy was a nurturing, caring girl who had time for everyone. Aged just seven, she appeared on our front doorstep with another girl in tow, announcing: “This is Kathy, she’s eight and her mummy is dead and her daddy is on drugs.” I saw a poor mite of a girl standing in ragged clothes, her hair literally crawling with lice. Kathy became an unofficial member of our family, basically living with us for more than three years – all due to Lucy’s kindness and concern for others. Both Alex and Lucy grew into wonderful adults whom I was extremely proud of. It came as no surprise when Lucy became an apprentice youth worker, tirelessly helping young people with a variety of issues; she listened and imparted sound advice without
ever being judgemental. It seemed a natural progression when she decided to train as a children’s nurse. She was proud to be offered a place at four universities, and accepted an offer from John Moores University, in Liverpool, as it had strong connections with the world-renowned Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. She moved up to Liverpool to start her degree, although she would visit regularly. But I was worried that she was overdoing it as, in addition to having to study and her unpaid placement at Alder Hey, she also had to work part-time in order to fund herself through university – although I helped her out as much as I was able to. Early on in her studies, she met a junior doctor on a night out and they became serious very quickly. Any free time she had seemed to be spent with him. They were talking about moving in together, marriage and children. Lucy thought she had her life mapped out. But in autumn 2016, at the start of the second year of her degree, Lucy called me, concerned about her health. She was having jerking movements – unexplained “tics” – and was due to see a specialist to discover what was causing them. She was particularly worried that while they were being investigated, the university said she could not continue with the practical element of her course.
(L–R) Lucy, Liz, Lucy’s nan Pam, and Alex
June 2018 • happiful • 39
Leaving a Legacy
Liz describes her two children as ‘the centre of her universe’
I cannot let her death be in vain. I am determined to change the view society holds about mental health She was frantic that she would fall behind in her degree. I tried to reassure her, she was extremely capable and her father and I would help her financially. She made me aware that the doctor had prescribed her antidepressants because of all the pressure she was under, but this didn’t set alarm bells ringing at the time. The final blow came when her boyfriend decided to end their relationship. She was set adrift emotionally and financially, as he was working full-time and they had been sharing living expenses. Suddenly she found herself alone, back in her student accommodation and isolated because he had been the focus of her life for the past 18 months. She came home for the half-term holidays in February 2017, and I suggested that she stay at home while she sorted her health out, even if it meant deferring for a year. She was worried about the impact this might have on her funding and, after a long discussion, Lucy decided to give Liverpool one more go. If I had known how it would end, I would have never allowed her to return. On the Sunday, I dropped her off at her friend’s house from where she was heading back to uni. While driving there, she remembered that she’d forgotten to pop in to see her nan but said she’d catch up with her the next time she was home. We chatted
40 • happiful • June 2018
and laughed, and I reminded her not to leave any of her six bags anywhere on the journey home. She was forever losing her bags. She rolled her eyes at me and said: “Love you mom” and I said: “Love you Luce”. I never thought that would be the last time I would ever see her alive. The next day, on the evening of 27 February 2017, she took her own life in her student accommodation. She left no note to tell us why. That’s when my world and that of all her family and friends fell apart. Everything went by as if in some kind of never-ending nightmare. Alex examined her laptop and was horrified to find a suicide note dated some six months previously. It transpired that she had made an attempt in August 2016, but her then boyfriend had stopped her. It had never been reported to anyone. I’ve no doubt that Lucy probably begged him not to, yet I cannot help but wish I had known, so I could have spoken to her about how she was feeling. Lucy was one of the most kind, considerate and caring people you could imagine. I cannot let her death be in vain. I am determined to change the view that society holds about mental health. There is a huge stigma attached to it – when in reality many of us will suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in our lives.
She rolled her eyes at me and said: ‘Love you mom’ and I said: ‘Love you Luce’. I never thought that would be the last time I would ever see her alive To that end I agreed to participate in a BBC3-commissioned documentary called Death on Campus – Our Stories. It was an extremely difficult thing for us to do, however the response has been staggering. Literally thousands of people have been in touch with me either to confide that they have considered or indeed attempted to take their own lives, or that they have been personally affected by someone else doing so. Perhaps the most worrying trait of all is the age of some of the victims – children as young as 11 and 12 taking their own lives. As a society, we must question what is going so badly wrong when children of such tender years feel that their lives are not worth living. To anyone reading this who is suffering from depression or any other form of mental illness, please speak up. You are not alone. There is help out there – make sure you get it. To anyone who may be concerned about someone’s mental health, please talk to them and listen – ensure they get the appropriate help. Lucy’s death is something so enormous and life-changing, from which myself and my family will never recover. I just hope that by telling our story it will bring about a much needed change in our attitude towards mental illness. A fitting legacy for my beautiful, caring and kind Lucy, who I was so proud to call my daughter.
Liz’s two children, Alex and of whom she is so proud
Our Expert Says Liz and her family’s world is turned upside down when her daughter takes her own life. Compassionate with a bright future, Lucy had been struggling with multiple challenges beating her down, and as Liz tries to come to terms with Lucy’s death, she recognises the stigma attached to suicide and mental health. Determined to ensure others would not suffer the same pain, she turns her focus to encouraging people start a conversation when they need help, or see someone who is in need. Graeme Orr MBACP (Accred) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor
June 2018 • happiful • 41
How to overcome
We all do it – avoid a tricky task and put off the inevitable. But how much of our time and effort is wasted in doing so? It’s time to stop making excuses, and learn to get stuff done! Writing | Juliet Landau-Pope
s there a vital task at home or at work you’re avoiding? Whether it’s delaying a dental check-up or ignoring paperwork, we’re all prone to procrastinate at times. And while comedians often joke about it – Ellen DeGeneres says: “Procrastinate now, don’t put it off!” – in reality, it’s no laughing matter. Sometimes the costs are financial; missing a deadline to submit your tax return or pay a parking penalty can lead to hefty fines. More often the price you pay for prevaricating is emotional, due to guilt, shame and frustration. If you struggle with procrastination, you’ll know that it’s both a source and a consequence of stress and anxiety.
42 • happiful • June 2018
WHERE ARE YOU ‘STUCK’?
As a declutter coach and study consultant, I help adults and teenagers to boost motivation and productivity, at home, at work and while studying. Broadly speaking, I witness two procrastinating tendencies. Which is most familiar to you? • Not leaving the starting block: postponing an important project indefinitely, or leaving it to the very last moment. • Getting stuck midway: launching into an activity, but losing momentum and perhaps abandoning the endeavour altogether.
WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?
Excuses can be understood as stories that we construct in difficult situations to validate actions (or inaction). But don’t let the term “excuse” make you defensive. When you notice that you’re procrastinating, resist temptation to berate yourself. Let go of selfjudgement, and instead focus on challenging any underlying assumptions. By reframing your story, it’s possible to not only shift perspectives but habits, too. Here are five of the most common excuses that might resonate with you, and some tips to help you kick procrastination to the curb.
1 I’M TOO BUSY
Being rushed off your feet may seem like a contemporary conundrum, but ancient philosophers also acknowledged the difficulty of trying to do too much. Socrates warned: “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” The answer, I suggest, is to declutter your diary. Take stock of how you spend your most precious resource, your time. Defining priorities is key. Learning to say “no”, and setting boundaries with friends, family or colleagues is also essential. And try dropping the busy bravado – next time someone asks if you’re busy, tell them that you’re active. It sounds less frenetic and will remind you that you’re in control.
Procrastination is a habit rather than a personality trait, so don’t let it define who you are
2 I’M A PROCRASTINATOR
It’s important to recognise that this isn’t simply a description; it carries a great deal of self-criticism that perpetuates the problem. It’s also a vast generalisation; procrastination is a habit rather than a personality trait, so don’t let it define who you are. Think about what you do accomplish rather than what you don’t – the myriad routines that ensure you get your children to school, or keep track of responsibilities at work and at home. Perhaps you take for granted the time management required to walk your dog every day, or the effort it takes to organise food shopping? Give yourself credit for being so productive in certain areas of your life, even if there’s scope for improvement in others.
3 I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START
A meeting to organise, a wardrobe to declutter, a report to write – the more complex a project, the more decisions you’re likely to face. And one of the toughest choices is where to start. Dilemma leads to delay. It’s all the more daunting if you suspect there’s a set way of tackling a task. But what if there isn’t a prescribed order to follow? Assignments don’t always need to be written in a linear fashion. When it comes to decluttering, I don’t advocate sorting according to a universal sequence of stuff. In many situations, it may not matter what you do first; anything is better than postponing. Try not to agonise over the first step and once you’ve taken it, just keep moving forward. As the poet William Wordsworth, advised: “To begin, just begin.”
4 IT HAS TO BE PERFECT
Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. I regularly work with students who put themselves under immense pressure to achieve full marks. I also coach parents and professionals who tend to view success as an all or nothing concept. If a preoccupation with perfection is holding you up, the antidote may be to lower the bar, to accept that sometimes “good enough” really can be good enough. Can you gain a qualification even if you don’t achieve a distinction for every single assessment? There may even be occasions when mediocrity is sufficient. In most situations, you’re likely to find that the task doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to get done.
5 I’LL DO IT SOMEDAY
Let’s be frank, “someday” isn’t a day of the week. Why not fix a specific date to do what you need to and share your plan with someone else to make yourself accountable? Another option is simply to do it now. Juliet is a certified coach, specialising in productivity, decluttering, and study skills. Visit jlpcoach.com for more, and read Juliet’s book ‘Being More Productive’ (WYE Publishing).
June 2018 • happiful • 43
‘MY ANXIETY WAS DISABLING’ One of Radio 1’s most popular DJs, Scott Mills, 44, may come across as a confident and charismatic presenter, but he hasn’t always felt that way. From crippling anxiety to panic attacks, Scott’s had a lot to deal with, but facing his fears and challenging himself has been key in overcoming his demons
cott Mills bounds into the cafe opposite BBC’s Radio 1 HQ carrying a two litre bottle of mineral water. Bag and coat down, he takes a guzzle. “I’ve got to drink all this and then another litre. It’s part of my new health regime!” he says, explaining that he’s a fortnight into a new “mad gym” programme. “I feel amazing,” smiles Scott, twisting sideways on the sofa and locking eye contact. “I’m on a serious health kick – working out four times a week with a trainer plus extra cardio. Exercise really does help the mind.” Mental health is a subject close to Scott’s heart and, as he chats for nearly an hour over coffee, he opens up abundantly about his history of anxiety, which began at the age of 13.
44 • happiful • June 2018
Interview | Gemma Calvert
As one of Radio 1’s longestserving and most popular presenters – 19 years and counting – Scott has the air of a kind, older brother who is gloriously well connected. A year ago, he welcomed Prince William and Kate Middleton on to his afternoon radio show to discuss their mental health charity, Heads Together. He’s interviewed everyone from Beyoncé to Bear Grylls, and three years ago, such is his own celebrity status, was asked to compete in Strictly Come Dancing. How, then, did a teenager physically crippled by anxiety, find his professional home in the spotlight, and why does he believe that challenging himself is the ultimate therapy? Scott Mills delves deep… Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 45
Interview | Milling It Over
‘I was so shy, and what fascinated me about radio was that I could talk to loads of people without having to meet them’
Describe your first experience of anxiety aged 13… I just felt a bit down. I would feel very tired and had no motivation to do anything. I didn’t finish my GCSEs because I would get to the school gates and the anxiety was disabling. I’d think: “I can’t go in there.” It was the same when I started in radio aged 16 in Southampton. I’d be in the car for an hour with mum, who would be coaxing me to go in. I’d also wake up at night having panic attacks. But back then, I didn’t know what was happening. Was there a reason for the anxiety? I had a good childhood. Yes, my parents split when I was 11 years old, but I don’t blame that. I’m not sure whether there’s always an underlying reason for it, which suggests that it could be something in your brain. I was a little bit bullied at school because I was quite a big lad, and I remember feeling intimidated at times by certain people. I was also very shy. Who knows what triggered it? Did you seek medical help as a teenager? I went to see a psychiatrist when I was 14 or 15, who said “it’s anxiety” and prescribed me tablets to regulate my heartbeat. What kind of therapy did you have? Talking therapy. I’ve had it a few times over the years and I really want to believe in therapy and that it makes a difference, but I can’t say that I’ve ever had a real breakthrough, personally. I just don’t think I’ve found the right therapist for me. What’s been your biggest reward from therapy? Three years ago, just before Strictly Come Dancing, I went to see someone because I was terrified and it helped me to breathe and think more calmly. By doing Strictly, I wanted to prove something to my younger self. Imagine Scott at school, unable to get out of the car, dancing on television in front of 14 million people! Some might wonder why someone with anxiety would crave a career in the spotlight… I’ve wanted to be on the radio since I was eight years old. I was so shy, and what fascinated me about radio was that I could talk to loads of people without having to meet them. I never even considered being famous or in the public eye.
46 • happiful • June 2018
By doing Strictly, I wanted to prove something to my younger self. Imagine Scott at school, unable to get out of the car, dancing on television in front of 14 million people
Are you still an anxious person? Not to the point where I have a panic attack, but in a social situation, like the work Christmas party, I still get the fear a bit. I’ll think: “What’s going to happen?” or “Who’s going to be there?” How do you manage your anxiety now? This job at Radio 1 has helped, no end. The idea of going on a stage used to terrify me, but now I can go on stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in front of 21,000 people. I have DJ’d before Robbie Williams at Wembley Stadium in front of 70,000 people, and one of the first things I did for Radio 1 was the pre-show for the Brit Awards at Earl’s Court. We were in a tiny Portacabin backstage, and a queue of people – Elton John, Destiny’s Child and Craig David – were waiting outside to be interviewed by me, and I did it! When did you last feel low? When I split up with my last boyfriend two years ago. I went into myself and became a bit of a recluse to deal with it. I was doing work and going home. I wasn’t wallowing in it, I just couldn’t cope being sociable.
SCOTT’S TIPS for daily calm
Have you talked about mental health with your new boyfriend, Welsh radio exec Sam Vaughan? Yeah, because it’s easy to find it on the internet and he definitely did that! He’s so supportive. With the mad gym programme I’m doing at the moment, I’ll get a text from him every day saying: “You’re doing so well.” He’s super supportive.
Get organised: When I started at Radio 1, I was all over the place. I’d double book people all the time, which doesn’t lead to a good headspace. Being organised means happy people, which means happy me.
Suicide in men is the biggest killer. Is society encouraging men to talk about their feelings enough? What the Royals did last year was a breakthrough in terms of talking about it. Society has got so much better but, isn’t it sad when you hear on a daily basis, people who have [completed suicide] and didn’t talk to anybody?
Exercise: It raises my mood. If I’m stressed at work, exercise works. Inhale/Exhale: When I used to have panic attacks, I felt dizzy because I wasn’t breathing properly. If I breathe in and out slowly, stress disperses.
What can society do to not leave these men behind? It’s different for every single person. Mental health lessons in schools, surely that’s got to happen. I would have found that so beneficial, comforting and less isolating. Hopefully there will be a point soon where schools will get to that. Sex education has been taught for years. Why not mental health? It’s just as important.
Say ‘no’: People with anxiety and depression get full up quicker, so your head feels full. Simplify your life by putting fewer things in the diary, see who you want to see, and only do things you want to do.
What would you say to your 13-year-old self? A lot of my issues were confidence, so I’d say: “You can do more than you think you can.” I’m afraid of heights, so two years ago I abseiled off the Orbit at the Olympic Park. That’s why I do these challenges. I prove it to myself over and over again.
Drink aware: A lot of people drink [alcohol] to feel better, but it’s a vicious cycle because then you feel worse. I drink less now.
You can listen to Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1 Monday to Thursday from 1pm–4pm, and tune in to his chart show on Fridays 4pm–7pm. Follow Scott on Twitter @scott_mills
June 2018 • happiful • 47
Help Kids to
Manage Stress With today’s increasing pressures – from ongoing exams, to social media and newfound responsibility – kids and adolescents can feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. But for any concerned parents, teachers or friends, there are some simple yet effective ways you can support them Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
henever exam time rolls around or a new term begins, we’re reminded of how stressful things can be for teens. In 2017, the NSPCC reported an 11% increase in teens seeking counselling sessions with feelings of being overwhelmed due to exam stress, excessive workloads, and feeling unprepared. It can be easy to overlook how stressed younger children can feel between homework, tests, after-school clubs, family changes, misunderstandings with friends, and more. We’ve put together a few simple tips to help you support stressed out children and encourage them to develop healthy, sustainable ways to handle their feelings.
48 • happiful • June 2018
1 TAKE A STEP BACK (BUT MAKE IT
CLEAR YOU’RE THERE FOR THEM)
Hovering while they’re doing homework, checking to make sure they’re paying attention, or trying to step in and manage their workload, can be tempting. This may make kids feel more pressured or less confident in themselves and their abilities, though. Instead, let them know you are there to help or talk if they need anything. Start a gentle conversation to help them think through everything they have to get done, and to encourage them to develop their own action plan.
In 2017, there was an 11% increase in teens seeking counselling sessions with feelings of being overwhelmed due to exam stress, excessive workloads, and feeling unprepared 2 PRAISE EFFORT AND IMPROVEMENT,
NOT GRADES OR RESULTS
Focusing on the end result can feel frustrating or overwhelming for children if it’s a topic they struggle with. By emphasising their grade or the end result, kids may become anxious if their work isn’t perfect. Make sure they know it’s OK to make mistakes, and they aren’t expected to know everything. Encourage them to try their best, ask questions, and think of other ways they can approach things if they get stuck.
3 SCHEDULE LESS, PLAY MORE
It’s easy to forget how busy kids can be. We expect them to pay attention for six or seven hours a day at school, take part in after-school clubs or groups, finish homework in multiple subjects, and get to bed at a reasonable time. It’s important to make sure we aren’t over-scheduling them with extra tutoring sessions, too many clubs, or added responsibilities. Make sure there’s still time to play, relax and unwind. Try using family meals together as a way to break up the day between school, homework, and free time. Encourage children to speak up if things are feeling too much, and try letting them manage their own schedules. It’s important for kids to learn their own limits early so they can better manage their workloads when homework and exam pressure starts to increase as they progress through school.
Routines can be reassuring during stressful times. Healthy, regular sleep patterns can help minimise stress, improve school performance, and boost mood. Create a techfree, relaxing bedtime routine by ditching bedroom screens. Help kids to wind-down and get ready with a warm, relaxing bath or shower 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime. Try to include a calming activity you can do together, or children can do by themselves, just before bed, like reading or simple breathing exercises. Remember to stick to the same bedtime, even at weekends, to avoid disrupting their sleeping patterns, and kickstart the new week in the best way.
5 MANAGE YOUR OWN STRESS
Kids can be pretty perceptive. If you’re stressed, they can pick up on this, and may begin feeling anxious or stressed. If children see parents or close relatives avoiding stressful situations, leaving things to the last minute, or putting their self-care last, they may mirror these ways of dealing with stress, rather than developing healthy coping strategies. Set a positive example for kids by building time in to your week for regular self-care, keeping your schedule manageable, and showing kids simple ways they can combat signs of stress, such as practising mindful breathing or meditation. For more ideas and resources to support children’s wellbeing, visit happiful.com/tag/kids
June 2018 • happiful • 49
Wellbeing in the workplace: a task we can – and must – all take seriously. And fortunately for us, Mental Health First Aid England is doing just that with their mission to ensure we take better care of ourselves, and our colleagues Writing | Maurice Richmond
taff in health institutions have mandatory training on which coloured extinguisher to use on certain fires, but for guidance on how to compassionately help a colleague struggling with their mental health? Look further. That is not to downplay the dangers of fire, but when the blaze gets out of control inside
working days are ‘lost’ each year in the UK as a result of work-related ill health
50 • happiful • June 2018
a member of your team at work, where do we turn? How can we spot the warning signs that a colleague is in trouble? What indeed are the signs? Enter the firefighters performing the frontline training: Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA). More than a quarter of a million of us have already benefited from their unique insight. And crucially, nearly 2,000 of us are out there passing the message on. That’s right, MHFA’s aim is to not only equip us with the tools we need, but also for us to use them. Simply put, it’s the mental counterpart to the array of physical first aid training out there. HOW DID MHFA TRAINING START? MHFA England’s roots are a world away from the position
ADDING UP THE MHFA IMPACT: • 1,803 active MHFA instructors • 496 new instructors trained in 2017 • 256,436 people trained in MHFA skills in England it finds itself today. In 2007, officials within the Department of Health were asked to investigate the roll-out of a mental health training package across England. It sought inspiration from a first aid movement pioneered in Australia in 2000, that was also being implemented across Scotland. A surge in popularity saw it set up solid foundations, and Mental Health First Aid was registered as a social enterprise in 2009.
Statistics | hse.gov.uk
Caroline Hounsell, youth lead and director of partnerships, product development and training at MHFA England, turns the clock back to when such grandeur was a pipe dream. “Only 10 years ago, MHFA England was just three people sharing a desk, with a handful of instructors scattered over the country,” she says. “Now we have a flourishing network of more than 1,800 instructors, training an average of 6,000 people every month, with a central team of nearly 50 people. “This is helping us to bring MHFA to more and more communities all over England, breaking stigma, and empowering everyone to be able to talk about mental health and mental illness.” WHY IS MHFA TRAINING NEEDED? Around 12.5 million working days are “lost” each year in the UK due to work-related ill health. While physical injuries account for an average of 9.1 days off per person, the majority of working days lost by far is due to stress, depression or anxiety – accounting for an average of 23.8 days per person. First things first, and most importantly, you are entitled to take days off for your mental health and you should use them when needed. But just think how many days will be saved, if you or a colleague can spot when somebody at work is in danger of burning out, risks doing some serious damage to their mental
23.8 days off per person each year due to stress, depression or anxiety
health? Even just having a mental health first aider in the office can reassure employees that their mental health is being taken seriously by their managers. GAINING MOMENTUM Wellbeing in the workplace was at the heart of Madalyn Parker’s out of office message back in July 2017. The US web developer’s message went viral, and her boss’s response travelled just as far. Madalyn wrote: “I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.” She received a prompt reply from her company’s CEO, Ben Congleton, who thanked her for “sending emails like this”. He continued: “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organisations. You are an example to us all.” Caroline acknowledges this is the scenario they want played out in all workplaces. Continues >>> The average person will spend more than
90,000hrs of their life at work
Matt Holman, one of our own, completed training as an instructor to deliver the two-day course in April 2018: “As someone who is very interested in mental health and wanting to help others, I found the training to be a really rewarding experience – very detailed, with a good depth and understanding of mental health issues. “Having a mental health first aider in the office can be vital support to those who are struggling in silence. But MHFA is only a part of what companies should be focusing on to provide their employees with the right level of support to really encourage positive mental health and wellbeing.”
June 2018 • happiful • 51
Paul Hay, 49, Environment, Health and Safety Training Manager at construction and project management company Lendlease, did his MHFA training in July 2015:
She says: “Granted not every employer would react as effusively, but if we continue to normalise the idea that sick leave is for our whole health, not just physical health, then we can create workplaces that are more open and accepting.” The fact is, mental ill health is not uncommon, and given the average person will spend more than 90,000 hours of their life at work, it’s natural that just as our physical health can impact our ability to work, so can our mental health. To address this, Caroline says: “Having someone trained in
off per person due to physical injuries
52 • happiful • June 2018
“We started our mental health programme four years ago. At the time, construction was a little behind the curve in terms of attitudes to mental health. My ex-boss, who was involved with Rugby League, got the ball rolling on this. “We established that construction had the highest suicide rate of any profession in the UK, and nobody talked about it as an issue. It’s a profession mostly occupied by men, and we all know about men not talking. “I was blown away by the impact it had on me, and it
Mental Health First Aid in every workplace is one key part of supporting this culture change, but leaders also have an important role to play in setting the tone from the very top.” SO, HOW DOES THE FUTURE LOOK? If “one in four” continues to be the big mental health statistic, “one in 10” is the one MHFA hopes will play a crucial role in its future. It means some 5 million people could be taught in the ways of MH First Aid. Caroline says: “Our overall aim is to train one in 10 of the English population, to create a cultural tipping point where awareness of mental health is equal to that of physical health – thereby driving real change. “We know there’s a long
changed the mindset I had towards the issue – my own personal wellbeing, that of my colleagues and friends. “Over the past four years, we’ve put around 350 people through the two-day course, and about a third of those are active mental health first aiders within the business. “How can we prove what we’re doing is working? I can sense a culture change, in terms of the training take-up and the awareness sessions – we can’t put enough on. Just walking around the office, you hear ‘mental health’ in conversations.”
way to go, but culturally there is already a noticeable shift in attitudes, and we’ve seen the number of people trained in MHFA skills double over the last two years. As part of MHFA’s social mission, Caroline notes that they want every workplace to include mental health in their first aid provision, with trained first aiders matching the number of physical first aiders. PUSHING FOR PARITY With their vision to see parity between physical and mental health figures, it’s worth noting that you can expect to shell out £279 for a three-day course to become a physical first aider at work, which is undoubtedly worth every penny. While the current cost of training a MHFA instructor (who can train others in a variety of courses) is a hefty £2,325 excl. VAT, the cost to become a mental
We have a flourishing network of more than 1,800 instructors, training an average of 6,000 people every month health first aider who can support colleagues within a business is far closer to the physical first aider cost at £300 excl. VAT. But in reality, knowing that we have the chance to push mental health safety at work to the top of the agenda alongside physical health, that is priceless. To find out more about MHFA England and its training courses visit mhfaengland.org
FIRST AIDER Happiful is excited to offer our readers access to our specially commissioned MHFA training courses, provided by our partner Simpila Healthy Solutions, where you can become a qualified mental health first aider. The course will help you develop skills and awareness designed to give you: • a deeper understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect people’s wellbeing, including your own • practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues, and the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person who is in distress • enhanced interpersonal skills, such as non-judgemental listening •knowledge to help someone recover by guiding them to appropriate support The course takes place over two days, at a reduced rate of £225 excl. VAT per person, and as a special reader offer, attendees will also receive a copy of the latest Happiful magazine, plus a three-month print subscription, delivered to your door. Head to happiful.com/tag/events for information about upcoming courses and to sign up!
June 2018 • happiful • 53
Lifestyle & Relationships
OVERCOMING SELF-DOUBT WITH
Sas Petherick Interview | Kat Nicholls
y first encounter with Sas was at a blogging conference last summer. At this point I was a bag of nerves; as an introvert, walking into a room full of strangers and making conversation all day felt more stressful than anything else to me. Cue Sas Petherick’s workshop on overcoming self-doubt. Sas’ warm demeanour and soft New Zealand accent held the space (and my nerves) perfectly. We asked some big questions about self-doubt, and how we were holding ourselves back. I’ve become somewhat of a fan-girl of Sas’ ever since – following her on social media, listening to her podcast Courage & Spice, and attending her one-day workshop, “Write Yourself Home”. So when it came to discussing the topic in detail for Happiful, I could think of no one better to ask about the impact of selfdoubt on our mental wellbeing, and just what we can do about it.
54 • happiful • June 2018
Photography | Amanda Jackson
Hi Sas! How did you get into coaching? I came to the UK in 2002 with plans for big adventures, but within a few months of arriving, my beloved mum died suddenly back in New Zealand, and a year later my marriage ended. I found the best cure for grief and loss by far, was vodka. I was encased in some pretty thick emotional armour that alcohol was a huge part of. For six years, I took every chance to go travelling. I said yes to everything and everyone, especially the things I didn’t want to do, because I couldn’t trust myself. At the time, I was an ambitious management consultant working long hours with a big salary and responsibility to match, but behind the façade of success, my confidence was shot to pieces. I felt increasingly fragile until, eventually, I burnt out completely. So, what did you do? Over the next few months I decided to give up drinking, I started taking better care of myself,
I prioritised sleep and spent my time reading, baking, socialising with people I cared about, and seeing a therapist. Eventually I went back to work as a more vulnerable, patient, softer version of myself. But I quickly realised that my ambition for corporate stardom had evaporated. It all led me down a path to retraining as a coach. I spent two years completing a Masters programme at Oxford Brookes, and my dissertation was a qualitative study on the experience of self-doubt. Did you make a connection to your own experience? All that time researching self-doubt helped me to weave together the threads of my own experience. The academic rigour required me to think critically and objectively about this deeply subjective phenomenon of selfdoubt. Why do we experience it, does it have a purpose, how does it show up, and what are the ways we can overcome it?
Sas presenting at her workshop on overcoming self-doubt
FAVOURITE FILM? Arrival – one of the most compelling stories I have watched in years! BOOK YOU WOULD RECOMMEND? The Way Of Transition: Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments by William Bridges FAVOURITE QUOTE? “Nothing good gets away”, written in a letter from American author John Steinbeck to his son. I’ve found that many of us are quietly grieving for our unlived potential. The idea that it’s never too late to notice, appreciate and take steps towards what we want, can feel like a life raft
“I prioritised sleep and spent my time reading, baking, socialising with people I cared about, and seeing a therapist”
Self-doubt holds us back from being our fully expressed selves. It culls our spirit and wraps us in defeat. But it is a very logical and understandable response to psychological risk. Making sense of your particular flavour of selfdoubt – where it came from and why – helps to minimise the ways it is holding you back. Are certain people more susceptible to self-doubt? Research tells us that we all have an individual “flavour” of self-doubt, and this shows up differently depending on a range of factors, including gender. While selfdoubt itself is not a gendered experience, it is amplified by a culture that exploits stereotypical worries and fears we have about our own value.
Self-doubt holds us back from being our fully expressed selves. It culls our spirit and wraps us in defeat. But it is a very logical and understandable response to psychological risk
Can you elaborate? Women consistently work below their level of competence, and are subject to a pay gap of 18%. Of those working in the lowest paid jobs, 80% are women. Women are navigating the space between the sticky floor of our own self-doubt, and the glass ceiling of the patriarchal culture that does not see any value in rocking the boat. While men are experiencing what we can only describe as a crisis in mental wellness. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35. Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent, more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs, and less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 55
Event styling by Hannah Bullivant
HOW TO START YOUR SELF-BELIEF JOURNEY Shift your perspective Most people are familiar with the concept of an “inner critic” that is often the voice of our self-doubt. Underneath this negative self-talk is this part of our psyche that is trying to protect us from psychological risks, which is usually created during our early years when we don’t yet fully comprehend the confusing adult world. When we start to see that our self-doubt sounds and feels like a frightened child, we can change our relationship with that voice to one of compassion and patience.
What needs to change? I think most of us can see that it would be a better world if women felt more empowered and represented around decision making tables, as well as creating the societal conditions that would support all of us to show up in our relationships and families as emotionally healthy humans. Is self-doubt holding us back? We’re all living somewhere on the spectrum of mental wellness, and self-doubt is at the thin end of the wedge. But when our self-belief is rocked, we can start to question ourselves and our abilities to such an extent that we feel we aren’t good enough or smart enough to do anything. And then we can, quite understandably, stop trying. Can self-care help? I learnt to meditate about four years ago and it is both as prosaic as brushing my teeth, and the most profound
56 • happiful • June 2018
relationship of my life. In this stillness, I quietly connect to something that I can’t honestly explain. But it feels like the best kind of connection. A year ago we adopted Bohdi, a cavapoo puppy. He’s my furry sidekick and taking him out for walks has become a daily joy. There’s nothing like watching him run around the park in sheer bliss. And finally, what are you working on now? I am slowly writing a manuscript for a book on self-doubt and I am hoping to complete the draft by Autumn. It is the culmination of a life-long dream to write an actual book, and of course, has all of my own selfdoubt bubbling up! Find out more about Sas’ coaching services at saspetherick.com and follow her on Instagram @saspetherick
Focus on your pride and joy: There are two kinds of happiness: hedonic (pleasure based) and eudaimonic (meaning based). Joy helps us access pleasure, and when we feel pride we have a sense of personal meaning. The emotions of pride and joy act as gateways into what brings us alive. Remember a time when you felt pride or joy – let the scene unfold in your imagination, who was there, what was happening, how you felt. Importantly, notice the sensations in your body.
Celebrate small wins: Resilience is the ability to navigate through adversity – and self-doubt is a great way to build your resilience muscles! Remember the last time you faced a big challenge, loss or disappointment: how did you move forward? What do you wish you had known then? Taking small, regular, doable actions that feel safe, is so motivating! You’ll see real progress being made, and the momentum built by those tiny changes adds up quickly.
The Happiful Seal of Approval Images | Mental Blocks: twitter.com/mental_blocks, Book Club: Paramount Pictures
Broaden your horizons this month with our 10 recommendations for June – from podcasts to get you through your commute, to where to recharge your batteries with a weekend of glamping, we’ve got you covered
PAGE-TURNERS The Good Food Good Mood Cookbook by Lina Bou: a nutritional therapist’s collection of recipes to nourish your body and mind, and encourage a fun and healthy relationship with food. (£24.99, Eddison Books Limited)
Plugged-in Mental Blocks: using Lego bricks and a comic-book format, Mental Blocks follows two characters, Amy and Nick, as they work through the challenges of living with mental health problems. (projectlibero.com)
TECH TIP-OFFS MindFi: an app to help you include mindfulness in your everyday life, with short, guided meditation sessions to fit in with your routine. (Free for Android and iOS)
Lend us your ears Crybabies: writer Susan Orlean and actor Sarah Thyre’s candid and funny, yet moving, podcast about the things that make us cry, featuring a new guest each week. (Podcast available on Earwolf.com)
Head for the hills Wingbury Farm Glamping (Buckinghamshire, UK): relax and recharge in these cosy glamping pods. Enjoy hot tubs, outdoor fire pits, and the beautiful surrounding countryside.
The conversation Pride Month (June 2018): June is a time to celebrate progress and equal rights, and to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people. Visit prideinlondon.org to find out how you can get involved, and visit lgbt.foundation or stonewall.org.uk for more information and advice.
Eroica Britannia Ride and Festival (15–17 June): cheer on cyclists as they complete rides around the Peak District, and soak up an eclectic mix of music, shopping, entertainment, food and drink.
Book Club: in this feel-good comedy, four older women, and lifelong friends, read Fifty Shades of Grey at their book club, and are inspired to reignite the romantic flames in their lives. (In cinemas 1 June)
I DT EH Treat PR M O N OUT & ABOUT
West End Live (Trafalgar Square, 16–17 June): watch performances from top West End musicals, for free. Who could be Les Miserables after that?
yourself Hygge Box: hygge is the Danish concept of living in the moment and being cosy and comfortable. This subscription box provides you with the tools you need to indulge in the hygge way of life. (£35 per month, hyggebox-uk.cratejoy.com)
June 2018 • happiful • 57
ti inc all ck lu et si s ve fr om
£2 5.0 0
LONDON 1-2 JUNE 2018 A unique wellbeing event dedicated to mindfulness and meditation
70 EXPERT SPEAKERS including:
V IA V ID E LIV E O LIN K
PROFESSOR PAUL GILBERT OBE
Actor, Singer, Podcast Host
President of The Compassionate Mind Foundation
DR KRISTIN NEFF Co-Founder - Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
DR TAMARA RUSSELL
DR PATRIZIA COLLARD
Founder & CEO of Mindfulness Works
Director of Mindfulness Centre of Excellence, London
SP O N S O R ED BY
I N PAR T N ER SH I P W I T H
mindfullivingshow.com twitter.com/Mindful_Show 58 • happiful • June 2018
*Price for one day only. Includes access to all seminars & workshops (subject to availability).
Learning to love the skin I’m in Societal expectations and pressures to be ‘perfect’ sent Helena Grace Donald on a destructive cycle of dieting and bingeing. But with the support of her mum, who taught her tapping, she overcame her bulimia and negative thinking by properly processing her emotions, and now wants to empower others to do the same
very morning when I look in the mirror, I greet myself with a smile and give thanks for my wonderful life. I feel so blessed to be able to do that now because, just a few years ago, my morning ritual could not have been more different. Like most teenagers, I wanted to look good and be cool, popular and successful. I thought that, to be acceptable, I had to have a “perfect” body. In fact, I thought I had to be perfect at everything and look like I was excelling in all areas of my life. I was pretty slim up until I was 16 – I even did some modelling. Then, over a short period of time, my hips and thighs got bigger and I
panicked. I couldn’t accept that my natural body shape was not going to be what I was programmed to believe was the “perfect” female shape at that time. Determined to pursue “perfection”, I started dieting. I could cope with the dieting for the first few days, but then I would feel so hungry that my mind would be consumed with thoughts of food, so I would eventually try to numb the whirlwind of emotions inside me by bingeing. This resulted in weight gain that would cause me to panic again and go on another diet. Before long, I was in a vicious cycle of dieting and bingeing, which eventually became more and more extreme. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 59
Helena’s Story Tapping became a life-saver for me. It gave me the power to gain some control over my emotions and make healthier choices about my body and my life By the time I was 17, I was starving myself at school during the day, having a small meal with my family in the evening and then, because hunger would keep me awake, I would sneak downstairs after everyone had gone to bed and binge on ice cream, leftovers and anything else I could find. This abuse of my body played havoc with my metabolism and left me a miserable wreck on the bathroom floor every morning when I stepped on the scales. I was putting on weight more than I was losing it and I didn’t know what to do. The voice in my head – Little Miss Critical – berated me every day for not being good enough, pretty enough, or slim enough, and I felt hopeless, out of control and worthless. This was my final year of A-levels and, as well as the stress of study, I had a position of responsibility at school, and the pressure to excel was huge. I felt I had to keep it together, somehow, so I started using bulimia as a coping mechanism. There had been such a build-up of negative thinking, insecurity and despair, that by the time I began throwing up my meals, my thinking had become so distorted that it didn’t even feel wrong – it felt necessary. I would politely excuse myself from the family dinner table, go to the bathroom, turn on the tap so that nobody could hear me, throw up multiple times until I felt
60 • happiful • June 2018
that everything was out of my system, and then go back downstairs and act as if nothing had happened. Some mornings I could barely speak because the back of my throat was so swollen from forcing myself to throw up. And, on top of all that, my hair began to thin and fall out so that it looked wispy at the front, which did nothing to help my self-esteem. At 19, I hit rock bottom and knew I couldn’t go on living that way. I will never forget the night I went to my mother in tears, feeling like my skin was crawling because my urge to throw up was so strong. At that point I understood that what I was doing was wrong, and I begged her not to leave my side because I knew if she did, I’d head straight to the bathroom.
‘I embarked on a life-saving journey of learning to love the girl in the mirror’
That night, my mum, who is a psychologist, used an incredible technique called “tapping” with me, and it very quickly calmed me down and took away my need and urge to throw up. Tapping became a life-saver for me. It gave me the power to gain some control over my emotions and make healthier choices about my body and my life. From then on, I embarked on a life-saving journey of learning to love the girl in the mirror. Over time, I learnt how to disarm my inner Little Miss Critical and take back the power I had allowed her to have in my life. I realised that I had to change the way I spoke about myself and put a stop to the negative habit of always criticising myself and focusing on my “imperfections”. My motto became: If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, then don’t say it to yourself. I stopped dieting, got rid of the scales that used to be how I measured my self-worth, and learned how to nourish my body with healthy food. I still use the tapping technique regularly to process my emotions, so that I no longer feel the need to use bulimia or any other harmful activity to numb my feelings, or as a form of control. I have learnt to love and accept myself exactly as I am, and that has proved to be incredibly empowering in all areas of my life.
I am grateful for everything that has happened in my life so far, including the dark times, because, without them, I would not be the person I am today. They have given me the opportunity to find my inner strength and my passion for empowering others. I wish I could go back as the woman I am today and tell my struggling, 17-year-old self that she is perfect in her imperfection. I wish I could tell her that the way to get the body she wants is to start loving and accepting the body she has. I wish I could tell her that her strength and talents are far more than skin deep. And I wish I could tell her that when she learns to love herself, everything will work out better than she could ever imagine. I am now on a mission to inspire other girls and women to step out of the shackles of society’s expectations on body image and to learn to treat themselves with the same love and respect they would give to their best friend. When we do this, everything in our life changes for the better. It’s time for us to stand up and step into our inner feminine power, and that begins by first accepting and loving ourselves, exactly the way we are. Helena Grace Donald is an empowerment coach, teen mentor, and author of ‘Learning to Love the Girl in the Mirror: A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living a Happy and Healthy Life’ available on Amazon (£11.85). Visit girlunfiltered.com for more.
Our Expert Says
Helena’s story is a potent reminder of the importance of self-love and self-care. Once Helena realised she was using bulimia as a coping strategy, she was able, with support, to find a more healthy way of managing her emotional health. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping) can be useful, like any technique that integrates the mind and body, to create healing. We each need to find the specific tools that help us, because we’re all different. I’m moved by Helena’s habit of treating herself the way she would treat a best friend – what a helpful way of making sure you respect yourself. Fe Robinson MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
June 2018 • happiful • 61
Photography | Bauer Media Group AU Paul Suesse
Food & Drink
After helping more than 1.5 million people to quit sugar, Sarah Wilson has opened up the conversation about anxiety and reframing our own ‘beasts’ Writing | Lucy Donoughue
62 • happiful • June 2018
he night before my interview with Sarah Wilson, I finish her latest book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, and feel slightly guilty. A large proportion of the pages have scribbles on them – my notes to look at the research she has mentioned, or to remember her methods to deal with anxiety and try them out. My book “graffiti” is the first thing I confess to her, apologetically, when we speak – but Sarah seems to be pleased: “I wrote it that way, with the wider margins so that I could add in notes when it came to editing, and so other people could write their notes too – it’s a good thing.” Sarah has vast experience when it comes to writing. She’s a New York Times best-selling author, with a journalistic career spanning more than 20 years across radio, television, newspapers and magazines (including her former role as editor of Australian Cosmopolitan). First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is her latest book, originally published in her home country, Australia, back in February 2017, and now available in the UK and US. Her other books arose from her research on sugar-free living as the founder and director of I Quit Sugar – a programme that has helped more than 1.5 million people across the world, and has seen her published in 46 countries, so far. Sarah’s writing is rich, conversational, full to the brim with research, and balanced by a continual questioning of collective preconceptions – plus a huge amount of her own personal experience. She recounts living with anxiety from childhood, bulimia, OCD, insomnia and being bipolar, and her darkest moments as an adult. Her honesty about her experiences draws a similar response in others. After reading her latest book, one man travelled across Australia to hear Sarah speak, confessing that reading her book
allowed him to understand what his daughter had been experiencing. They had been estranged for some time, but with his new understanding of her anxiety, they found a way to rekindle their relationship. While the impact of her book on others has undoubtedly been positive, the process of writing it was a difficult one. “It was painful, but it was also therapy,” Sarah reflects. “It took me right back down into it. I’d lived in various countries, I’d had a miscarriage, I had a relationship break up, two suicide attempts – it was the full thing. The reason I wrote the book was because I wanted to have a better conversation. I was lonely. I figured if I went first, then a better conversation could start – and I was happy to go first. “And it’s worked. Now, I’m centred – I feel like I’ve arrived in my life and established a great pivot point for the future,” Sarah says. “The book has started some beautiful conversations – with people in the street, my family, uncles and cousins who have been relieved to know that someone else has similar experiences, and that they could now talk openly about their’s.” Sarah is passionate about helping people to talk and I’m reminded of a passage, early in the book: “My qualifications for writing this book, then, if this matters to you, is that I’m a committed striver. I’m strapped in. Doing the work and keen to start the conversation.” By “going first” in these discussions, she helps others to share their own story and find a way of reframing their beasts. In the book, Sarah questions whether we could unravel the notion that anxiety (the beast) is something to be medicated and eradicated, or whether there is a way we can live with it, understand it, and possibly even thrive with our anxiety? She explores the importance of pain, building boundaries, gratitude, rejecting “perfect moment” syndrome, meditation – and so much more. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 63
Food & Drink
In the early pages of The Beast, Sarah also speaks of having Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune disease of the thyroid that can affect numerous functions including metabolism, heart rate, blood sugar, mood and sleep. She offers the widely-discussed assertion that autoimmune diseases, like other inflammatory diseases, can affect how our neurotransmitters communicate, indicating that there is a link between gut health, inflammation and anxiety: “Put simply, if you have fire in your gut, you have fire in your brain.” Sarah has already done a mammoth amount of investigation of her own (she has been described as a “hypervigilant researcher”) about gut health and the impact of diet, becoming a qualified health coach and meeting with endocrine and nutrition specialists around the world. This work resulted in I Quit Sugar, which launched in 2011. Ever the conversation-starter, Sarah passed on the knowledge she had gained and implemented herself through the 64 • happiful • June 2018
IQS programmes, cookbooks and her social media accounts. Earlier this year, she made the hard decision to close I Quit Sugar, writing an open and heartfelt explanation on her website. Sarah’s books and teachings on sugar-free eating remain, as do the advocates who have followed the programme, many seeing remarkable results on their physical and mental health. Her work on mental health and diet will continue, and she has recently produced an e-book The AntiAnxiety Diet: A Two-Week Sugar Detox That Tackles Anxiety – For Good (about what you can eat rather than restrictions) to sit alongside First, We Make The Beast Beautiful. As for future plans, expect further news from Sarah on her ideas to encourage less waste. “I’m working on a book about food waste, which is my big passion,” she notes. “It’s a zero food waste cookbook and it’s never been done before, in the sense that even in the writing and shooting of the book there’s no food wasted, everything will be reused, and there’s no plastic.” The conversation around plastic and waste is one that really fires Sarah up. “I am aching to get people to stop just talking and retweeting about plastic pollution and truly engage with and live the changes, not just because the planet needs it but because we need it,” she says. “That mushy cucumber in the back
of the fridge makes us cringe. The way we’re consuming things – all the stuff that gets tossed out – makes us feel horrible. We need to start a new conversation about trying different ways – and again, I’m happy to go first.” Like the reframing of our mental challenges, Sarah feels that just as we need to stop searching for perfection in how we experience our lives, we should apply the same acceptance mindset to how we consume, making the very best of what we have available to us. Back then, to my scribbled on copy of The Beast. Sarah insists that she wants people to read and pass it on, to continue the conversation – recycling the book. I suggest that I’ll lend mine to my husband, to see what he makes of my scribbles, and I’ll get to look through his notes upon its return. “That’s a good experiment!” Sarah responds, and I feel a little less criminal for defacing her beautiful book. “The book isn’t just for anxious people, we’ve seen that already,” she adds. “A lot of people who have an anxious loved one in their life have gone out to buy it, just to understand it more, and people gift it to one another, for that reason.” As we finish our conversation, I ask Sarah what else someone can do if a loved one is struggling? “Be there, make decisions for them – the small ones. Often anxiety can take away the ability to do that. So say
Photography | Instagram:_sarahwilson_
One man travelled across Australia to hear Sarah speak, confessing that reading her book had allowed him to understand what his daughter had been experiencing
Photography | Bauer Media Group AU Damian Bennettr
to them: ‘I want to eat, I’m going to come around and make dinner, and I’ll leave at 9pm.’ Let them know the boundaries of your support. “Also, understand that sometimes, it can seem like they are being controlling – but they are just trying to control the parameters of what’s happening to alleviate their own
anxieties. Once you know that, you can stop thinking they are trying to ruin an experience and you can be their rock.” I’d add just one more suggestion to Sarah’s. Give them a copy of First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, a pen, and an open invitation to scribble and talk.
First, We Make The Beast Beautiful is available now and The Anti-Anxiety Diet (a two-week sugar detox that tackles anxiety – for good) e-book is available to download from Amazon. Read more about Sarah’s work around anxiety, nutrition, food waste and minimalist living at sarahwilson.com June 2018 • happiful • 65
SummertimeSoirée Fire up the BBQ – we’ve got two dishes to impress your guests!
fter what feels like a never-ending winter, we’re ready to dust off the BBQ – or if like me, you forgot to clean it last year, buy a shiny new one! So this month we’re doing something different, and giving you not one, but two recipes, guaranteed to have you named the host or hostess with the mostest. I’m all about flavour, and while I’ve always been a lover of spicy food, after recent trips away, I’m much more experimental in the kitchen. In Cuba, I learnt more about the magic of flavour – the power of herbs and spices which make an otherwise simple dish delicious. In Mexico, well what can I say, the food is incredible. Though the crispy calamari with a strawberry (yes, strawberry) sauce was a firm favourite, and it inspired me to be more creative with mixing sweet fruits with savoury foods.
You don’t have to be a pro chef to know your way round a kitchen – heck, I’m definitely not. All you need is a little time and Writing | Ellen Hogga rd imagination and you can create something really special. It’s time to invite your friends over and fire up the BBQ. Even if it rains, at least you can imagine you’re in sunnier climes, and have a laugh while doing so! If you're thinking of getting a professional opinion or help with your diet and nutrition, head to nutritionistresource.org.uk where you'll find tips, articles and qualified nutritionists in your local area.
Spicy Chicken and Mango Skewers Makes 4 | Prep: 30 mins | Cooking: 30 mins Method: Ingredients:
Soak 4 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Set aside.
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed 4 chicken breasts, diced 1 clove of garlic, chopped Juice of 1 lime Chilli flakes Drizzle of honey
In a bowl, add the lime juice, honey, garlic and chilli flakes. Mix well and taste, adding more honey if you prefer a sweeter flavour. When the mango is peeled and cubed, and the chicken is diced, start threading on to the skewers in an alternating pattern.
Wedge of lemon and parsley (to serve)
66 • happiful • June 2018
Baste half the marinade on to the skewers. When ready to cook, add them to the BBQ, turning occasionally. Baste with the remaining marinade, cooking until the chicken is golden brown all over and cooked through.
Apple and Walnut Salad Serves 2 | Prep: 20 mins Ingredients: 100g spinach 4 slices prosciutto 1 apple Feta cheese Walnuts, chopped Balsamic vinegar
You don’t have to be a pro chef to know your way round a kitchen
Method: Wash the spinach. Set aside. Slice the apple into thin slices and cut the prosciutto into strips. In a bowl, add the spinach, apple and prosciutto. Add the chopped walnuts and toss. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and crumble over some feta cheese. Voilà!
Notes from our nutritionist...
hese recipes are good options for those looking for a quick meal that’s also packed with plenty of nutrients. These tasty chicken and mango skewers go perfectly with the salad for a low-carb, protein-packed summer meal that should keep blood sugar levels even. The lean protein from the chicken and healthy omega-3 fats in the walnuts will keep energy levels balanced, helping to avoid those afternoon slumps! The yellow-orange colour of the mango, as well as providing a juicy, sweet contrast to the chicken and feta, is high in carotenoids which have antioxidant
properties. Mango is also high in vitamin C. The spinach in the salad provides a nutrient boost, including minerals calcium and magnesium for bones, and vitamin K1, a vitamin important in maintaining bone health and blood clotting. I love this sort of light food during BBQ season. I particularly enjoy prawns, which would make a great alternative here.
Kate Dimmer is a registered nutritional therapist and registered nutritionist who is passionate about using nutrition and lifestyle to support good health and wellbeing. To find out more about Kate, visit katedimmer.com
June 2018 • happiful • 67
Lifestyle & Relationships
The must-have guide to
Sex and relationships
for Aspie women
Exploring the unwritten rules of casual sex, dating, and everything in between Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
uring the late 90s, Sex and the City became the go-to guide for women looking to open up, explore, and discuss their sexuality. Through the lives of four very different females, women across the world felt a sense of empowerment to embrace their sexuality. Author Artemisia aims to bring that level of frank discussion about sexuality, one-night stands, romance, and everything in between, out into the open for autistic women everywhere. Autistic Spectrum Conditions (also known as ASC and ASD) have become more commonly spoken about, though infrequently in relation to women and girls. Still an overwhelmingly malefocused field, Artemisia’s book focuses entirely on the female perspective, from the eyes of an ageing woman on the spectrum. Written with humour and blunt honesty, the author shares over 100 self-imposed rules to help her (and readers) stay safe while exploring sex and relationships.
68 • happiful • June 2018
While much of the book focuses on the author’s own journey through dating and one night stands, at its heart, Sex and the Single Aspie isn’t just pro-sex; it’s about having a healthy, loving relationship with yourself. The happier and more accepting you
At its very heart, Sex and the Single Aspie isn’t just prosex; it’s about having a healthy, loving relationship with yourself are of yourself, the less affirmation you need from those around you. Artemisia offers clear advice and “safety notes” from the get-go, encouraging readers
to be open and honest in their communication, but to always be safe. While it may seem straightforward advice to some, the author highlights how easy it is to get swept up and ignore, overlook, or outright not realise some of the dangerous situations people can find themselves in. Perhaps most importantly, she highlights (and dissuades) a fear that dominates the minds of many non-neurotypical young women: that there are some secret, hidden rules to relationships that everyone is following. With personal experiences retold and packaged like fiction, and a slightly rambling narrative in places, it’s easy to like and relate to Artemisia. Neurotypical readers can get a glimpse into the Aspie thought process as the author and titular character explains her feelings and leaps of logic in honest, frank terms. We start in the aftermath of a bad relationship. Artemisia has left her partner to vacation in
Greece, giving him time with his son, and time to sleep with other women. Feeling alone but not sad, she knows she cannot return to him. Yet she worries that, without a boyfriend, she cannot have a regular sex life and that, at her age, her chances of finding a boyfriend are decreasing. Worried that she will never find anyone to love her because of her blunt way of speaking, the author touches on many of the fears shared by women on the spectrum that they may feel uncomfortable to express or not know how to discuss. Through the course of her sexual exploits and journey across parts of Europe, we discover more about Artemisia: grandmother,
Sex and the Single Aspie Written by Artemisia RRP £12.99 Available from 21 May 2018 Great for YA, adults, and women on the autism spectrum. ASC individuals will love… the straightforward, honest advice and guidance given by someone with shared experiences. Neurotypicals will love… the unique insight into one aspie woman’s thought process and life.
traveller, writer, and Aspie; as well as her rules for having a safe, healthy A person with relationship. Asperger’s syndrome A well-known blogger and writer in the ASD community, if like me, you hadn’t heard of her before, once you get started, you will be eager to read more of her work. While Sex and the Single Aspie may very well be an essential read for young women on the spectrum, it is worth neurotypical readers remembering that these are the experiences of one person. Not all autistic women are as naïve as Artemisia occasionally generalises, nor do they necessarily share the tendency to obsess (though this can be a common trait). Feeling like more than a memoir or love story, Sex and the Single Aspie is almost a middle-age coming-of-age story. Sharing not only tips, but deeply intimate experiences and parts of her life, Artemisia focuses on the importance of finding yourself, being comfortable in your own skin, and never being ashamed of your needs, wants and desires (sexual or otherwise). Reading through her emotional journey is a roller coaster of ups and downs, yet it leaves us with a positive, hopeful message and advice we would all be better off for following. Love yourself. Protect yourself. Put yourself first.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE:
Life on the Autism Spectrum: A Guide for Girls and Women by Karen McKibbin A practical guide following Aspie girl Alison, giving readers an inside view of the challenges autistic girls and women face. Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World by Laura James Laura learns she is autistic in her mid-40s and faces a dilemma: does she tell others, or not? A personal story highlighting “different” doesn’t mean “less”, and it’s never too late to find our place in life. The Girl with the Curly Hair: Asperger’s and Me by Alis Rowe Bridging the gap between those with Asperger’s Syndrome and the rest of the world, Rowe highlights the everyday challenges aspies face to live a “normal” life. Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone Award-winning handbook for Aspergirls of all ages, guiding readers through personal and professional life, friendships to romance, routines to meltdowns.
June 2018 • happiful • 69
Lifestyle & Relationships
QUICK-FIRE QS SONG YOU CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO? ‘Pat Earrings’ by CASisDEAD (because I’m in the video!) FAVOURITE PLACE TO BE? In bed BEST GIFT YOU EVER GAVE? I sent my brother to drama school THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? ‘Origin’ by Dan Brown FAVOURITE WAY TO WIND DOWN? A hot bath 70 • happiful • June 2018
YINKA BEING MYSELF With her CapitalXTRA radio show and an inspiring TedxTalk under her belt, Yinka Bokinni is a force to be reckoned with. And what’s better? She knows it. But the journey to be where she is today hasn’t been easy. Here we chat bereavement, displacement, and the power of the #MeToo movement Interview | Kathryn Wheeler
Yinka, we heard you enjoyed our April issue with Alexandra Burke? Yes! I loved it. I’m a big fan of Alexandra; she’s gone through so much in such a short amount of time. I’ve also lost my mum, and am pursuing a career in the media. I relate to when she says that you want someone to be there, to tell you that you’re doing a great job, and that isn’t there any more. Alexandra wasn’t ready to get professional support for her grief, is that something you’ve considered? My mum passed away almost 10 years ago. I was only a teenager, and I’ve never gone to get counselling. Maybe I should have when I was first dealing with the grief – it’s something that definitely would have helped me. I was talking to someone the other day and they said it was never too late, so maybe in the future. You graduated with a law degree, but went into radio. Did you ever experience a feeling of displacement after uni? Completely. The only thing that I knew was that I didn’t want to go into law. I didn’t want to work in an office, I don’t want to read, or argue. And it’s quite an overwhelming feeling when you know what you don’t want to do, but you have no idea what you do want to do. What’s your advice for those feeling overwhelmed after uni? You need to understand that you’re not on a time limit. You don’t have to be ecstatic with your job, just not hate it. It’s about finding something that doesn’t affect you negatively. You wrote a blog post about your #MeToo experiences. What made you want to share that? So many women are affected by it. I have four sisters, and all of them have been affected by
harassment. The post was talking to those girls, and those who think that the things that have happened to them define them. You’ll be walking down the street and a man will follow you, and you’ll be like, it’s too late and I shouldn’t leave the house this late. That isn’t OK. Why do you think it’s so important we take this seriously? Because it gives the victim clarity. I think the worst thing is when you’re not sure if something happened. And you question whether it’s harassment, like, he grabbed me and I didn’t like it, but did he mean to? It took the MeToo movement for me to realise how serious it is. In your TedxTalk on ‘The Myth Of Escaping The Ghetto’, you talk about growing up on a council estate in Peckham. How has that background shaped the person you are today? I’ve experienced things that people wouldn’t think a person as positive as I am would have experienced. I grew up in the same block as Damilola Taylor, although I don’t like to dwell on it. But the reason why I think it’s important for me to explain, is that it goes to show that no matter where you’re from, you can still have a positive outlook. Where do you get that positivity from? There have been times where it has been physically impossible for me to get out of bed. It may sound a bit weird, but when I’m not feeling 100% I can read a blog post back, or I’ll watch my TedxTalk and think, oh my God, this girl is so inspiring. It’s me, but a different version of me, when things weren’t feeling so bad. Tune into Yinka’s CaptialXTRA show, Monday to Thursday from 7pm–10pm, and Saturdays from 9am–1pm. Follow Yinka on Instagram @yinkabokinni
June 2018 • happiful • 71
Using Instagram Stories to Combat Social Anxiety
While social media often receives criticism for its potential impact on users’ mental health, there is another side to the story – one where specifically Instagram Stories can be used as a tool to help people overcome their social anxiety
ack in 2012, I was a shadow of my former self. I avoided all of my friends and the thought of having to talk to strangers left me frozen, dreading every potential interaction and assuming the worst possible outcome. I was suffering from social anxiety disorder, a mental illness that affects more than 15 million adults, and it was taking over my life. Statistics show that one in 10 people are likely to have a “disabling anxiety disorder” at some stage in their life, according to Anxiety UK. Furthermore, in the US it’s reported
72 • happiful • June 2018
Writing | Fiona Thomas
that 36% of people with social anxiety disorder experience symptoms for more than 10 years before seeking help. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Along with medication and talking therapy, I managed to overcome the crippling symptoms of social anxiety by using an app which many of us use every single day – Instagram. There are more than 21 million active Instagram users in the UK alone, and more than 800 million active users worldwide – with that figure only expected to rise. I found Instagram Stories to be a key part of my recovery, and for the past year I’ve used it to document my life online.
As a proud introvert I found this way of communicating incredibly accessible, and it’s undoubtedly given me the confidence to talk to strangers, as well as my own friends, in real life. Now I meet up regularly with mates, and have rekindled old friendships with people I’d lost touch with because of my illness. It didn’t happen overnight, but Instagram Stories has played a huge part in my recovery and I think it could help you too. Remember to action each of the following tips in small stages, and step away from social media if it’s making your anxiety symptoms worse:
1 FIND PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM
WITH SIMILAR STRUGGLES
Talking on Instagram Stories might sound terrifying, but you’d be surprised at how many people do it. Search the hashtag #mentalhealthblogger and you’ll find lots of accounts made by people who are experiencing social anxiety but benefit from talking about it online. You don’t have to talk about your own personal issues, but watching other Stories will hopefully inspire you to get started.
Social anxiety disorder affects more than 15 million adults 2 SET YOUR ACCOUNT TO PRIVATE
By default, anyone can see your Instagram account and anything you post on there. If you’re worried about who will see your videos then I would strongly advise setting your account to private. This will ensure that only your friends will be able to watch your videos, which may help you feel more comfortable than talking to complete strangers.
4 PRACTISE CONVERSATION STARTERS Eventually you’ll find yourself talking randomly – like I do – about your likes, dislikes or even what you had for breakfast that day. It’s amazing how much you can talk, even when there’s no one else in the room! If you’re feeling confident about talking on camera, and you’re hoping to transfer these skills into social situations, then test out some conversation starters in your Stories. You might ask if anyone can recommend a good place to get sushi in your city, or what book you should read next? You can even use the “poll” function to get direct answers from your followers, making it a little more interactive. You don’t have to talk about your anxieties, but just practising small talk is a stepping stone in the right direction towards feeling more calm in social situations.
5 EXPERIMENT WITH LIVE STREAMING This definitely isn’t one for beginners, but if you’re enjoying the normal Stories, then try doing a live broadcast. It’s great because you can interact immediately with your viewers, who can add comments that you can respond to. My advice would be to go into a live stream with a plan and something interesting to showcase. You could show off a new hairstyle, or read some quotes that really inspire you. Unless you choose to save your live stream, you can rest in the knowledge that once you’ve stopped recording, it’s instantly deleted. For that reason, I think live streaming is a great way to practise talking socially without much risk. If you thought you did quite well, then save the video and people will get the option to watch it as part of your story for the next 24 hours.
3 SET A DAILY INTENTION
If you’re not sure what to talk about on your Instagram Story, why not start with a daily intention? I use a set of positive affirmation cards called I Can Cards, but you could simply set your own intention for the day and discuss how you plan to achieve it. For example, on my Story yesterday I said that I was going to try to get some exercise by going for a walk and doing some yoga. I ended up talking about how much I enjoy yoga, and it really spurred me on to make sure I found time to practise some poses later in the day.
Although Instagram can be an invaluable communication tool for some people with mental illness, it might not be right for you. If using this or any other social media app increases your feelings of anxiety, then consider taking a break. Try turning your phone to silent and taking a walk outside, or doing a few minutes of meditation.
June 2018 • happiful • 73
HAPPIPRINT AT THE CHECKOUT
SUBSCRIBE! READER OFFER
ONE YEAR FOR ONLY £48 £36 Recieve a 25% discount by using the code HAPPIPRINT at shop.happiful.com What you’ll get:
• Happiful magazine delivered straight to your door every month • £6 donation to charity included in your subscription cost • Exclusive competitions, prize draws and a chance to feature in our mag! • For every tree we use to print this magazine, we will ensure two are planted or grown Post and packaging costs are included in 12-month print subscriptions. No hidden costs, just a one-oﬀ payment of £36 for 12 issues of your favourite mental health magazine when you use HAPPIPRINT at the checkout! Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing.
Walking out of darkness
When depression consumed him, Jake Tyler phoned his mum to say goodbye, having decided to take his own life. But she convinced him that they could find help together, and as he moved back home and started receiving professional help, Jake discovered the powerful effect of nature on his wellbeing. Jake started walking daily, and felt more positive and connected to the world around him with every step
n early April 2016, a week before my 30th birthday, I wanted to die. One morning, I was lying motionless in bed in my east London flat above the pub I was running, too afraid to move. Years of living secretly under a rock of depression had caught up with me; I had finally run out of air, and I could no longer stand the pressure. Depression makes me feel like I’ve sat down to take an exam I know I’m going to fail. It’s like that feeling that hits you when you give something up after deciding you can’t do it, stretched out over an indeterminable period of time.
You don’t choose for it to happen, and you can’t choose for it to stop. All you know is it’s here to stay, and it doesn’t give one shit about your schedule. I used to chalk the good days up as victories, and the bad as me just being a miserable freak. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I felt the way I did, especially because I had no real reason to. My childhood was great, my adulthood was exhilarating and, on paper, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my life. But when you live with depression, you can never be truly happy for yourself, not really. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 75
Keep on Walking
Jake set himself the challenge of walking 3,000 miles around Britain
How can something as simple as taking a walk and encountering the natural beauty of this country make me feel this much better? That morning when I was lying in bed was the most pain I’ve ever felt. I’d had enough, and was ready to die. I lived on the fourth floor, a high enough drop (I thought) to turn the lights out for good. But before I went, I had to hear her voice. Just once more. I reached for my phone and scrolled down my recent call list until I found her. Mum. Just reading the word brought tears to my eyes. She answered, and the rest is a blur. All I know is that she heard me and suggested we get me some help. That’s when everything changed. The next day I was in a doctor’s office, describing what was going on inside my head – the hate, the despair, the misery, the suicidal scenarios. The doctor asked me a very important question: “Do you actually want to die, or do you just not want to feel this way anymore?”
76 • happiful • June 2018
It was a huge distinction to make, and one I couldn’t believe I hadn’t put to myself. He diagnosed me as having a major depressive episode, signed me off work, and suggested I go on a course of antidepressants. For my own reasons, I decided against pills. I wanted to try something else before I went down that road. I moved back in with my mum, and after a few weeks decided to go for a walk. I really enjoyed it, so the next day I went out again. Without a job, this became my only routine, so I started doing it daily, and each day went further than the day before, until I was spending whole afternoons exploring the rural landscape of Essex. Within a couple of weeks I was feeling better – not recovered, but on the up. Long walks and fresh air helped clear my head, and this got me thinking. Why don’t more people do this? How can something as simple as taking a walk and encountering the natural beauty of this country make me feel this much better? Two months later I was heading west along the south coast of England. I set myself the challenge of walking 3,000 miles around Britain, hitting every national park and area of outstanding natural beauty, to highlight how beautiful this country is and encourage people to try managing their mental health in a positive, exercise-led way. I was laughably unprepared, but my excitement for the journey and the faith I had in the concept unearthed the cavalier attitude I needed to just do it. I set off from Brighton Pier in summer 2016, and spent five months on the coast, averaging 15 miles a day, sleeping in a tent and documenting my physical and mental progress on social media. By the time I’d reached Wales’ Pembrokeshire coast, I was receiving messages from people all over the country, either telling me about their experiences, or wishing me luck. I couldn’t remember a time where I felt more at ease and connected to the world and people around me.
Jake with Prince Harry, whose Heads Together campaign was supported by the ‘Mind Over Marathon’ runners
Around that time, I received an email from a casting agent at the BBC, who saw me as an ideal participant for a forthcoming two-part documentary about the correlation between mental health and exercise. In November I left the walk to begin filming the programme that would eventually be titled Mind Over Marathon. The premise of the show was that I, along with nine others with mental health difficulties, were introduced to running and trained to run the London Marathon. The show was an enormous success, and the people involved are now some of my closest friends. Together we told our stories to the nation, and the people who watched found hope in our honesty. Once the marathon was run and the dust settled, I went back to the walk, only this time I set out to run sections of it. I did a few trial runs, and by November 2017 I felt ready to send my huge pack home, and run the remaining 600 miles. The success of Mind Over Marathon meant that instead of sleeping in a tent through the winter, I was able to secure couches and spare rooms with strangers, which brought a whole new amazing dimension to the challenge. When I set off, I signed up for endorphins, open space and breathtaking scenery, but I could never have predicted where my journey would lead. The challenge became a lifestyle, and the people I met became my temporary best friends and family. I stayed with a neuroscientist who was trying (and succeeding) to cure hind-leg paralysis on dogs, an ex-serviceman I thought
was going to kill me in my sleep, and a DJ who was the victim of a savage home invasion two months before, amongst others. Reconnecting with people was what I really needed. In February 2018 I completed my walk, and promised myself the legacy would be to keep connecting, talking and listening to people’s stories. There’s strength in numbers, and when we talk about mental health, we really connect. A month after the marathon, the Mind Over Marathon band got back together at a Walking Out Of Darkness event organised in London by CLASP, the suicide prevention charity. It was amazing to see so many people there, all with their own stories, all wanting to help bang the drum for mental health. This year I’ve made it my mission to attend all seven Walking Out Of Darkness events, to hear as many stories as I can. We are who we surround ourselves with, and if we surround ourselves with people who understand what it’s like to struggle mentally, day in, day out, it shares the load, and makes life that little bit easier. To join in with a Walking Out of Darkness event near you, visit walkingoutofdarkness.com and follow @claspcharity on Twitter for news and updates. Follow Jake on Instagram @blackdogwalks
Our Expert Says Just when Jake thought he had reached the end of the road, he found he’d arrived at the point where his journey began. The most important thing Jake did was reach out for help – and accept it. It’s interesting that his doctor made him realise that there was more than one way of looking at how he felt. Jake’s courage and determination has transformed his life. He inspires us to remember that, even from the darkest corner, we all have the potential to succeed! Rachel Coffey BA MA NLP Mstr
June 2018 • happiful • 77
Lifestyle & Relationships
Supporting Your Significant Other With Their Mental Health
Poor mental health can affect our daily lives and our relationships in many ways, and while we all want to support the people we love, the pressure can feel more intense or daunting when it’s our partner who’s struggling. Knowing how best to help your other half, and take care of yourself, can be key to a happy and healthy relationship Writing | Becky Wright
78 • happiful • June 2018
here’s lots of advice out there relating to mental health but, as we know, everyone is different, and so are their experiences. There’s no single set of rules that will apply to everyone, which can make trying to support a loved one with their mental health feel overwhelming. And the thing is, the support you provide to a partner is likely to be very different to how you would support a friend or family member. As counsellor Lena Fenton explains: “You live with a partner and their illness on a day-to-day basis. Their condition, like a physical illness, can take over your lives; you are in danger of becoming a carer and not so much an equal partner.”
Just as our physical health can change from day-today, so can our mental health. Whether your partner has a diagnosed mental health issue, or they’re going through a particularly tough time, it’s important to understand that mental health is a spectrum. Of course, every relationship has its ups and downs – that’s to be expected. Maybe you’ve noticed a change in the way your partner is, either in themselves or the way they are with you. They might seem distant. There are signs we can look out for that suggest our loved one is experiencing poor mental health, but the truth is, only you and your partner know your relationship, and what’s “normal” for you as a couple. But there are a few things to keep in mind to keep them (and you) happy in your relationship: Mental health is as broad and complex as physical health. Just as you’d want specific advice for supporting your significant other through a cancer diagnosis, an organ transplant or a broken leg, mental health conditions can be just as varied. We can give you some general tips, but it’s always best to seek out professional advice to suit your partner’s specific needs.
REMIND THEM HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM
This may seem obvious but, while a mental health problem is only a part of a person’s identity, to the person themselves, it can feel a lot bigger. When I’ve struggled with my own mental health, knowing that my boyfriend is there for me – there’s someone “on my team” – is comforting. It’s easy to feel that you’re on your own with what’s going on inside your head, but that’s often far from the truth. Be there for your partner, remind them that you’re there to listen, support and love them. Encourage discussion, but only when they’re ready.
Remind your partner of the things that make them happy. Being able to continue these activities is a big part of recovery, and in maintaining good mental health in the future.
Whether your partner has a diagnosed mental health issue, or they’re going through a particularly tough time, it’s important to understand that mental health is a spectrum Make plans together – but remember it’s best to take small steps. Planning an event like a holiday might be overwhelming while going through a hard time, so instead try to schedule small things little and often, like going to the cinema or dinner at a favourite restaurant.
PATIENCE IS KEY
Understanding how a mental health condition affects your partner can be essential in building a healthy, supportive relationship. One of the most emotionally draining aspects I’ve found when I’m having a tough time with my mental health, is the thought that I can take it out on my boyfriend, or make him feel in some way responsible. But, it’s really important to try not to take your partner’s mental health to heart. Counsellor Lena explains that, unlike when supporting a friend or family member, we are more likely to take it personally when our partner’s mental health is concerned: “It’s harder to be objective about what’s going on. Some people can feel responsible when their partner is depressed or experiencing other forms of mental ill health for long periods of time.”
RECOGNISE THAT SYMPTOMS MAY VARY
Be aware if they withdraw, behave differently or become more irritable. Common symptoms of some mental health issues include insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, and loss of interest in activities. You may notice gradual differences in their mood, rather than huge changes from one moment to the next. Continues >>>
June 2018 • happiful • 79
Lifestyle & Relationships
Talking to your friends or relatives can make a big difference in building a support network for you both Lena tells us: “If your partner is taking medication to help them, this may have a variety of side effects that can impact the relationship. This can include loss of libido and, therefore, there can be a reduction of intimacy between you. Your social life may also be curtailed as your partner may have difficulties in socialising.”
TAKE CARE OF YOU
The most important thing to remember when supporting a partner with mental illness is to take extra care of yourself as well. You could be in danger of burning out, especially if you’re not taking care of your own needs too. “Your partner’s mental health can take over your lives and create an imbalanced relationship. Further difficulties can be the possibility that you make them the centre of your world, and you too can lose yourself to the illness,” says Lena. Try opening up the conversation with friends and family. You might Always be worried that they remember the won’t understand, illness is not who your but trying to keep partner is. It is not their things under wraps can make personality, it is not who or the situation more what you fell in love with. Learn exhausting. Talking to separate out what belongs to your friends or to the illness and what relatives can make belongs to the person a big difference in you love. building a support network for you both.
80 • happiful • June 2018
LISTEN TO THEM
Doing your research and gaining knowledge can help you guide your partner. But recognise that you’re not an expert and you might not know the right thing to say. Lena warns: “People can become caught up in trying to make their partner ‘better’, instead of allowing them the space to be ill and stand by while they find their own way back to wellness.” Sometimes the best thing to do is just listen to them. Allow them to feel like they can come to you to talk about anything – without fear of judgement. And remember, encouraging them to seek out professional help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Rather, it shows that you understand that your partner may need care that you don’t have the tools to provide.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO PART WAYS
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, especially if things are not working in the relationship generally. Lena says: “If you feel trapped and torn between leaving and staying together, you’re not alone.” Leaving can feel much more difficult if your partner depends on you for support. But you have to put your own mental health first. If the relationship isn’t working, you shouldn’t feel pressured to stay together; it’s OK to walk away if you need to. And just because you’re not together romantically, doesn’t mean you can’t still support them as a friend. Speaking to a professional can be helpful, whether as a couple or individually. Find a counsellor near you at counselling-directory.org.uk
HOW TO SUPPORT A LOVED ONE WITH
More than one million of us will live with it over the next 20 years. But be under no illusions, there is still life after a dementia diagnosis
Writing | Maurice Richmond
ementia understandably strikes fear in the hearts of both those battling the illness, and those who love and want to take care of them. While you may be angry, lost and feeling helpless after your loved one has received a diagnosis, it doesn’t mean the book is closed. It’s just another of life’s chapters. So, what is out there for both of you and your friend or family member with dementia? Here’s a guide on how to be in control of your dementia story:
1 BUILD YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
As with many things in life, having a support group is vital. Age UK have some top tips on how to ensure your’s has as many bases covered as possible, such as getting involved in creative workshops to allow your loved one with dementia to express themselves, try something different, and meet new people. They recommend speaking with specialist support groups and attending day centres, which offer practical and expert help for you both. You could also visit your nearest Memory Cafe, which offer opportunities to socialise with people who understand what you’re going through, and have some fun. Visit memorycafes.org.uk to find a location near you. Personally speaking, I found the best thing I could do with my late grandad was to adapt things we both loved doing together. He was an avid golfer, and as his dementia progressed, we found a simple trip to the driving range with him rekindled many happy memories. The important thing is to not stop what you’ve always loved doing, it’s just a case of making adjustments around the condition.
2 TALK, TALK AND TALK
As with physical illness, discussing a condition and its symptoms can be comforting to you both, helping you to know what to expect. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has proved effective, according to experts at University College London. Most commonly used for anxiety and depression, a study has found that adapted support for early-onset dementia is a “most valuable” form of nondrug based treatment. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 50% of people with dementia experience some symptoms of depression, and anxiety is not uncommon either. Mental health affects us all, and being vigilant about its effects on dementia is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind.
3 GADGET SHOW
We’re warned of the perils posed by technology, but ignoring it as a vital dementia aid is dangerous, according to clinical psychologist Pauline Thomson. The array of alarms out there can really help you to support the person with dementia to live as normally as possible, even when you’re not there – from timers to control electrical equipment, to water sensors picking up flooding on skirting boards. There’s non-technical support too, with dosette boxes for medication, sticky notes or a simple phone call to check in. The most important thing is just to be there for them.
For more information and further help on living with and supporting a person with dementia, visit ageuk.org.uk or dementiauk.org. Alternatively, visit alzheimers.org.uk to find support services near to you. June 2018 • happiful • 81
The woman behind ChemoHero:
Boxes of kindness for chemotherapy patients Nominated by her colleague, Lara Eley, Lisa Wallis is bringing little pieces of happiness to those going through chemotherapy
he day after her 30th birthday, Lisa Wallis was told that she had three areas of invasive breast cancer, and the rest of her breast was riddled with pre-cancer cells. Two weeks later, she began eight cycles of chemotherapy, and was told she would need a mastectomy and radiotherapy as well. “Nothing can prepare you for this at any age,” says Lisa. “But having just turned 30, I felt my life had suddenly been wiped from under me.” Looking back, Lisa remembers the first few treatments as “a scary, lovely place” to be. One day, she was sitting opposite a lady in her 80s, who was undergoing the same treatment, but would be returning home alone. Knowing the effect that chemotherapy has on a person, Lisa was horrified to hear that she would be unsupported, and it got her thinking. In 2016, Lisa founded ChemoHero, a charity that gives “boxes of kindness” to chemotherapy patients Send your on their very first treatment, when nominations to they don’t know what they will need, email@example.com or what will help them. The boxes are handed out by chemotherapy nurses in the hope that the patients will get to know the nurses, and chat about the contents of the box. “People love ChemoHero,” says Lara. “They think it is such a fantastic idea, as so many people are touched by cancer.”
Do you know an unsung hero?
82 • happiful • June 2018
Lisa Wallis founded ChemoHero in 2016 Last year, ChemoHero handed out over 300 “boxes of kindness” to people beginning their treatment, and there are plenty of ways to get involved and help with fundraising. “The best thing I find about ChemoHero is that people who fundraise pick the item they would like to sponsor,” says Lisa, “and then they come and also pack the boxes.” Lara says: “Everyone that I speak to also sees the passion in Lisa, and they see her as such an inspiration! Quite simply, she is wonderful person.”
FACE CHALLENGES, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, AND KEEP GOING
Photography | Greg Rakozy
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Summer is right around the corner, so it’s time for our June issue! This month we’ve got an uplifting collection of features including: – L...