The Magazine Devoted to Mental Health
Life Edit WFH haven Ten to zen Savour your spoons Body posi
Lorraine Kelly She's tackling the taboo of menopause
Stand Tall. Be Proud. Dream Big. Find the strength & confidence to take up space on p29
Mar 2019 / £4
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Dating You can still find romance in recovery
Equality champion Munroe Bergdorf asks us to feel the love we deserve happiful.com | £4.00
Photography | Pietro De-Grandi
I’m not afraid of storms,. for I’m learning how. .to sail my ship. – LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
Embracing ‘uncomfortable’ Knowing you can do something with your eyes shut, is a pretty good feeling. You’re the boss of baking banana bread. You’re unstoppable on Excel. No one can rival you at crosswords. You like knowing where you’re at, it’s comfortable, familiar, not scary... But do you love it? Progress never came from sticking with exactly what we already know. Change, real lasting infallible social change, never began from thinking: “Things are OK as they are.”
our potential. From the trailblazing activist Munroe Bergdorf inspiring us to be the catalyst for change the world needs, to bopo blogger and fashion guru Kelvin Davis never being afraid to stand out in the crowd, and Ray Dodd speaking the words we all need to hear about claiming our own space – in this issue we implore you to unleash your power. There’s a quote from Marianne Williamson that expresses this best. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
When we stand up and challenge things, enter that unfamiliar territory and test our resolve, that’s when the world will take note. That’s when we can make a difference, and do something that defies our expectations of ourselves, lifts our spirits, and radiates pride.
It’s time to own that power, and see where it takes us. Happy reading,
In our March issue, we’re learning the power of stepping out of ‘comfortable’ – doing what might be difficult, but allows us to truly shine, and embrace
Rebecca Thair Editor
Get in touch with us on social media, we love hearing from you! happiful.com
Cover photography | Joseph Sinclair. Clothing: black dress | Osman, earrings | Bibi Marini
16 Munroe Bergdorf
8 In the news
The activist and model chats self-care, social injustice, and how we all have a part to play in the catalyst for change
29 Claim your space
In a world that can back us into a corner, how do we fulfil our potential and make our voices heard?
13 The wellbeing wrap 14 Spoon theory
What does it mean to 'run low on spoons', and can this theory teach us empathy?
42 The Orchid Project
46 Lorraine Kelly
Learn about the charity working towards a world free from female genital cutting
61 Perinatal perspective
Lifestyle & Relationships
As the broadcasting legend celebrates 35 years in the business, we chat social media, mental health and menopause
Five women share their experiences of the highs and lows of becoming a mother
Life Stories 37 Face it together
Jamie-Leigh lived in fear of the voices in her head for years before getting a diagnosis of BPD. Today, she's fighting to reach others, so no one feels alone
51 The power of reaching out
In 2016, Following a lifetime of suffering in silence, Stephen had a breakdown. But in the lowest moments, his loved ones were there. Now he knows it's OK not to be OK
73 A new lease of life
After a friend helped her recognise her own depression, Saima started taking treatment seriously. Now, she wants us all to do the same
87 Learning to love myself
Nicola spent years fighting self-doubt and loneliness before she discovered the healing power of embracing her true self
Happiful Hacks 26 Find work-life balance 40 Priceless saving tips 54 Mother's Day without her 70 Dating with mental illness
32 Kelvin Davis
The model and blogger on body positivity, and how fashion can change the world
66 Yours faithfully
Reflecting on bipolar and bisexuality, April Kelley writes a letter to her younger self
76 Meditating with cows
A story of how one man found comfort in cows through the hardest time of his life
HAPMAGMAR AT THE CHECKOUT
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83 Ten to Zen
Try the technique that claims to calm your mind in just 10 minutes
Culture 64 Happiful reads
A review of the new fantasy novel that puts moral dilemmas into action
69 Things to do in March 90 Quickfire: MH matters
Food & Drink 56 A simple supper 58 Eat for England
What happened when England rugby star James Haskell and performance chef Omar Meziane joined forces?
82 Like for like
Easy food swaps for healthy habits, that could help your all-round wellbeing
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EXPERT PANEL FE ROBINSON MUKCP (Reg) MBACP (Reg)
Fe is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor, and an EMDR therapist.
'I am. I have' available free to download now
EDITORIAL Rebecca Thair | Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Editorial Assistant Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor Fe Robinson | Expert Advisor Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director
GRAEME ORR MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind
Graeme is a counsellor who specialises in relationships.
OWEN O'KANE BSc, MSc, BABCP, RMN
Owen is a clinical lead within the NHS, with an interest in stress relief.
RACHEL COFFEY BA MA NLP Mstr
Rachel is a life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation.
RAY DODD BA
Ray is a mentor encouraging women to fulfil their potential in their lives and careers.
SONAL SHAH BSc (Hons)
Sonal is a nutritional therapist and health tutor. She is the director of Synergy Nutrition.
Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer Rosan Magar | Illustrator
CONTRIBUTORS Lucy Donoughue, Kat Nicholls, Bonnie Evie Gifford, Fiona Thomas, Kelvin Davis, Maurice Richmond, Gemma Calvert, Laura Graham, Ellen Hoggard, Miriam Foley, April Kelley, Eleanor Segall, Natasha Devon, Jamie-Leigh Mackintosh, Stephen Gillatt, Saima Majid, Nicola Arnold SPECIAL THANKS Joseph Sinclair, Krishan Parmar, Edmund Bossman, Bianca Spencer, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Sonal Shah, Owen O'Kane, Ray Dodd COMMUNICATIONS Lucy Donoughue Head of Content and Communications firstname.lastname@example.org Amie Sparrow PR Manager email@example.com MANAGEMENT Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Emma White | Director & Co-Founder Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Steve White | Finance Director Happiful c/o Memiah, Building 3, Riverside Way Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL Printed by PCP Contact Us firstname.lastname@example.org
What we've been up to... Love podcasts? Passionate about smashing MH stigma? ‘I am. I have’ could be just the thing for you. In our weekly podcast in collaboration with Counselling Directory, we explore the person we are beyond our mental health problems, as we speak with celebrities and public figures, including beauty blogger Estée Lalonde, the Naked Professor (aka, Ben Bidwell), and others. Head to iTunes or Google Podcasts to listen to our exclusive chat with this month’s cover star, Munroe Bergdorf, along with all previous episodes. Happy listening!
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.
Photography | Tyler Nix
What makes you. different or weird,. that’s your strength. – MERYL STREEP
Mary Russell, 49, is an aspiring fashion designer who was born with dwarfism. She has modelled for ‘Grazia’ magazine, and made several TV appearances
Photo series smashes stigma
The Uplift 8 • happiful • March 2019
To view the full series, head to Love Disfigure’s Instagram: @love_disfigure Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
Photography | Paula Broome
In a bid to challenge the perception of beauty, Sylvia Mac – founder of Love Disfigure, a campaign group that raises awareness of body disfigurements and differences – has partnered with online glitter retailer Go Get Glitter to create a sparkling photo series that celebrates our differences. Featuring seven women, aged 17–50, with visible scars, burns, health conditions or disabilities, the series consists of stunning shots of models proudly posing in gleaming body glitter. It’s hoped that the photos will normalise body differences, and provide a platform for the models to share their stories. Sylvia almost lost her life when, aged three, she fell into boiling water, leaving her with scars across her back, and other parts of her body. Following periods of her life where she has struggled with body image, Sylvia founded Love Disfigure in order to support others, and to challenge stigma against body disfigurement and difference. Speaking to Happiful, Sylvia said: “I wanted the models involved to know that they can fit into society. It was very much a fun-themed photoshoot that had everyone smiling and shining like stars.”
NHS England to introduce mental health checks for new fathers New initiative aims to support partners of women experiencing mental ill-health Described as a ‘radical initiative’ by NHS England, mental health checks will be introduced for new and expectant fathers across the country. Under new plans, men whose partners experience anxiety, psychosis, or postnatal depression, will be offered mental health checks. Designed to stop men from suffering in silence as they help their partner through mental illness, it will be the first support of its kind offered by the NHS. Parenting groups such as the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) currently offer support to both parents, but Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, has said that the NHS should intervene when medical diagnosis and treatment may be needed. The initiative is welcome news, addressing the fact that while becoming a parent is often a happy occasion, the life-changing event can also seriously affect our mental health. Currently, one in 10 men is thought to experience
anxiety or depression within the first six months of becoming a father, while one in five women report mental health problems during pregnancy or the subsequent year. Help offered to new and expectant fathers may include peer support, couples behavioural therapy, family and parental interventions in a community perinatal mental health setting, or talking therapies. Support will be offered to fathers in need throughout the pregnancy, as well as during the first year following the child’s birth. This new offering comes as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, released in full in January 2019. Further support has also been announced in the form of expansion to services providing help for pregnant women and new mothers, with specialist community health teams expected to be available across England by April this year. Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
Garden therapy supporting cancer patients The power of nature and its therapeutic properties are well known, and now leading cancer charity Penny Brohn UK, together with digital mapping company Nautoguide, have developed an interactive garden experience to support those undergoing cancer treatment. The charity was named the winner of a recent competition held by Nautoguide, which resulted in them creating the innovative interactive map together. The map allows users to explore the gardens at the charity’s National Centre in Bristol, and follow four different paths to learn more about the space. Hannah Sweetnam, brand and web marketing officer at Penny Brohn UK, said: “The gardens at the National Centre are a big part of what we do at Penny Brohn UK, giving anyone affected by cancer the chance to explore nature and find a quiet place to relax. “We were delighted to win the competition to work with Nautoguide to develop the interactive garden map, and offer people living with cancer further opportunity to explore our beautiful gardens.” Recognising that those with cancer need more than medicine, it’s encouraging to see how Penny Brohn UK and Nautoguide are thinking outside the box to create beautiful experiences for patients. Writing | Kat Nicholls Studies have found that being in nature, or even just looking at images of it, can help to reduce anxiety and stress
March 2019 • happiful • 9
You can either see yourself as a wave in the ocean or you can see yourself as the ocean â€“ OPRAH WINFREY
Teens dip their toes into surf therapy Aiming to support those most at risk of social isolation and in need of a confidence boost, a six-week initiative in Northern Ireland hopes to encourage surf therapy round the shores of the UK. Cornwall-based charity Wave Project runs regular surfing therapy courses across 11 sites. In late 2018, they launched a new pilot scheme to help young people aged eight to 18 in Portrush and Benone, Northern Ireland. A lesser-known, but recognised form of therapy, research suggests that surf therapy can improve overall mental health and wellbeing. So far, the charity has trained more than 2,500 people as volunteer surf mentors, with more than 2,200 young people accessing the surf therapy courses. Beth Dinsmore from the Wave Project explains why the therapy is so effective: “Statistically, it’s proven to de-stress and calm people. We’ve known that for autistic children for quite some time, but now research has proven it’s good for everyone.” While there are many types of therapy available for children and teens, some young people find a traditional clinical setting more challenging. Through surf therapy, experts hope to offer a fresh wave of support to those who may otherwise be at risk. Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
Visit waveproject.co.uk to find out more
Whether youâ€™re the quiz master-in-chief or a weekend word-searcher, escape from it all with these two brain-teasers, inspired by our March issue
Find the following words and phrases in the grid
MEDITATION BALANCE MARCH
ORCHID PROJECT MONEY MOTHERS
DATING LORRAINE KELLY
Unscramble the letters to reveal a word. Hint: positive affirmations 1 A GO INHUME 2 A DM VIOLE 3 S AT ORMING 4 I EM UAQUIN 5 L AL IBIEDMINCER
How did you do? Search 'freeb ies' at shop.happifu l.com to find the an swers, and more!
Good news for tall gals Senior sex The secret to wellbeing?
ASMR: 13 million YouTube videos can't be wrong
Vegan cheese just made its TV ad debut
Office lighting Show mother nature some love
Your fav pillow Dead skin cells don't make for sweet dreams
Longer limbed ladies live longer according to a new study. It found that 5ft 9 women were 31% more likely to reach age 90 than those who were 5ft 3!
Early risers' routines are a winner for wellbeing. Those of us with alarms set before 6am are 25% less likely to develop depression.
was used on more than 10 million Instagram posts in 2018! The self-love revolution is here, and we're all for it!
Community spirit is in the air, as research from People's Postcode Lottery has found more than half of Brits want to build their neighbourly relationships. Youngsters are leading the way, with 78% of 16 to 24-year-olds having more contact with their neighbours than any other age group.
Creepy or committed, you decide...
It's no secret we're an animal obsessed bunch at Happiful HQ, so a new trend definitely caught our eyes. Cuddle Clones is the brand recreating your beloved pet as plushy slippers – and the resemblance is uncanny. The eye-catching footwear certainly declares your fondness for the furry friends, but what will Sir Woofington think when he sees the slipper-sized clones?
Newly discovered letters have revealed that The Beatles' classic 'Hey Jude' was almost never released, because record execs thought the vinyl cover image of an apple was too pornographic... A California non-profit is on a mission to preserve and restore the diversity of our forests. They've created 75 ancient Redwood tree clones by using stumps as old as 3,000 years!
Artistic celebration for World Cancer Day
In February, CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading cancer charity for children and young people, put on an art exhibition of work created by young artists, all of whom have experienced cancer. With the theme of 'change', the artwork has been a tool for the youngsters to express their journey, and dealing with life during and after treatment.
Scented candles: sniffing out the truth With Brits spending a staggering £90 million on scented candles each year, it seems we just can't get enough of them. The good news is many of us are using them as part of our self-care routines. However, reports show they can be toxic for environment, and bad for our health.
Brits spend £90 million on scented candles each year For those whose passion for candles isn't going to burn out anytime soon, we have some advice. Natural wax candles that use soy are the cleanest, producing an estimated 10th of the soot created by a paraffin candle. Buy candles with a short wick, ideally made of cotton and without a core, to avoid producing soot and pollution.
spoon theory? What is the
‘I can’t today. I’m running low on spoons.’ It’s not the typical excuse when a friend cancels your plans last-minute, but it says more than you might realise about how they’re feeling – physically and mentally Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford Illustrating | Rosan Magar
or many of us, our energy levels and stamina don’t even come into question. Sure, you might have the odd day where you don’t feel like cooking dinner, but what if you had to monitor your energy levels so closely that you had to choose between taking a shower or washing the dishes? What if you worried that each hard choice could lead to someone thinking you were ‘just being lazy’? This is where spoon theory comes in. Spoon theory has been a popular metaphor for more than a decade among numerous disability communities. The theory uses spoons as a visual way to explain how much energy someone has throughout the day; we all start the day with the same number of spoons. Each action causes us to hand some spoons over in payment. For most people, they can rest and recover, with a seemingly unlimited supply of spoons. However, there are others who only have a set number to last them the whole day, and once your spoons are gone, they’re gone. Someone who is sick might start the day off with 10 spoons. Sounds great!
14 • happiful • March 2019
But it’s a cold morning, and you didn’t get enough sleep last night – you’ve woken up stiff and in pain. It’s going to cost you a spoon just to get out of bed, another two to make it through a shower, and two more to get yourself breakfast. That’s five spoons down before you’ve even left the house. You’ve already used half your energy, so you’ll need to be careful choosing how to spend your spoons if you don’t want to risk exhausting yourself and being unable to make it home safely, or pushing too hard and having even fewer spoons to work with tomorrow. This is the reality for many people who face fatigue-related illnesses or conditions. Unlike simply speaking about energy levels, spoon theory is a way for those who don’t experience fatigue-related or mental illnesses, to understand what others are going through.
THE ORIGIN STORY
Originally used by groups with autoimmune and chronic illnesses, it has become more widely used in online mental health and non-neurotypical communities. The number of spoons you have can vary from day to day, as
can how much even simple activities will cost to complete. But why spoons? Originally created by Christine Miserandino in 2003 as she tried to come up with a way to explain how lupus (an autoimmune condition) makes her feel to a longtime friend at dinner, she tried using spoons from tables around them as props. She discovered that they were a quirky, easy to understand way of explaining the little things that can actually be huge hurdles for those who struggle with their energy levels.
WHO USES IT?
If you’re on social media and you’ve ever searched through common mental health or disability tags, you might have come across ‘spoonies’ (those who use spoon theory), or the phrase ‘running low on spoons’ (running low on energy). Spoonies most commonly are people living with a chronic physical illness, though it has become more widely used amongst those experiencing chronic mental illnesses as well. Spoonies use spoon theory to help explain their struggles most commonly in energy or pain management, but may also use it
to describe their anxiety levels, ability to deal with outside stimuli or crowds, as well as a number of challenges they may face.
WHY IS IT SO POPULAR?
We may all feel tired from time to time, but when it comes to comparing our levels of tiredness to the sheer exhaustion someone with a chronic illness feels, we may as well be saying we understand the pain of a broken arm when what we really know is what it feels like to get a splinter. Spoon theory not only helps get this across but, for many, adds an extra layer to help separate what they want to do from what they can do. It’s not only a way to explain to others about how their condition affects them, but
it helps them to remind themselves that they aren’t being lazy, flaky, or unreliable for changing plans lastminute, or not getting everything done. They’re listening to their bodies and putting their own wellbeing first. Nobody likes to be ‘that person’ – the one who’s always cancelling lastminute, who’s hard to pin down for an evening out or even just a catch-up. It’s a luxury many of us don’t even realise we have; the energy, physically and mentally, to just do things when we want. In our excitement, we might not even realise others don’t have the same reserves we do. As much as it can be annoying to have ‘that one friend’, try to remember: no one enjoys being the one who seems like a flake. If someone says they
Spoon theory is a way for those who don’t experience fatigue-related illness to understand what others are going through are running low on spoons and just can’t make it, the chances are, they’ve weighed things up carefully before making the decision about what to spend the last of their spoons on. Don’t take it personally. And if you stop to think about it, that really makes every moment with our spoonie friends that much more of a gift.
March 2019 • happiful • 15
Dame Kelly Holmes
16 â€˘ happiful â€˘ March 2019
Driven by DREAMS
A voice for a generation, unafraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believes in, the past year has been an eventful one for model and social activist Munroe Bergdorf – who now has her sights set on carving out some more time for creativity, balance and self-care in 2019. However, as Happiful discovers, that doesn’t mean dialling down on speaking up and out, to challenge stigma and injustices. Here, Munroe shares her thoughts on what makes her truly happy, supporting others, and how getting uncomfortable could be the catalyst for change we all need Interview | Lucy Donoughue Photography | Joseph Sinclair
March 2019 • happiful • 17
Printed dress | Teatum Jones, Earrings | Eden Diodati
ex, scent and sorbet,” Munroe smiles over the microphone. “Those are the three things that I turn to when I need some de-stressing and down time.” It sounds like a recipe for a good evening in to me... This playful response will come to no surprise to Munroe Bergdorf ’s ever-growing legion of followers. Equal parts sass and wit, with an undeniable presence, she’s a woman whose energy and intelligence immediately draws you in. The articulate activist and empowering model has joined us on the set of Happiful’s new podcast, ‘I am. I have’, and she’s arrived ready to talk, bringing a calm, contemplative energy into the studio with her. “Sorbet... well, I love ice cream because it really snaps me out of seeing food as just fuel. In my early to mid-20s, I had a really bad eating disorder. It was during that time I could feel the testosterone in my body, which was naturally quite muscular, and I thought the only way to control this was to stop eating.” Munroe, now 31, is referring to a period in her life before she began identifying outwardly as female. In her own words on her website, she
says: “I happen to be mixed-race, and transgender. I was assigned male at birth, but never felt comfortable with that label. Adolescence was confusing for me, and at 24, finally, I began identifying outwardly as female. This was an incredibly freeing time for me, and the start of my transitional journey – one that I accept will never fully conclude itself.” Throughout her early 20s, this inner conflict around depression, food and her body, had serious consequences for her wellbeing. “It became a vicious circle, because I was unhappy and I became very thin, then that triggered depression, which triggered self-harm. “Eating ice cream is now a way of reminding myself that food is there to be enjoyed and, whenever I’m down, it’s something that really helps with that. I’ve got a special relationship with a certain brand of chocolate chip brownie ice cream…” Scent, she says, takes her back to a holiday in the Maldives, which was “heaven on earth, the only place I felt like I could really switch off ”, and sex “reminds you that you’re a mammal, and human contact is important, even if it’s not sex – it could be a hug, with your closest friends or family.”
Undoubtedly, Munroe has a sensual side – which is apparent in her three pillars of self-care. But given that Munroe spends so much of her time working on social activism, tackling racial inequality, advocating for gender equality, and championing societal progression, I wonder whether she ever feels the need to retreat back into herself after being so publicly visible, and having her opinions continually challenged? “That’s interesting,” she pauses. “I never thought about it that way. It’s like a recharge.” I can imagine recharging is pretty important for her. In 2018 alone, Munroe received the Black Magic Impact Honour, Cosmopolitan Changemaker of the Year Award, as well as premiering her first film, Channel 4’s What Makes A Woman, appearing on a number of televised panel debates, podcasts, writing for various publications, and continuing her modelling career. And by no means does this list cover everything. When I ask about her reflections on her career to date, Munroe reminds me that she has only been in the public eye for just over a year. She was first thrust into the media spotlight in late 2017, after a well Continues >>>
I feel like I have a purpose now; for a long time I was drifting – conscious, but drifting – down a hallway, and all of the doors were shut. And slowly, I feel that they are opening documented contract cancellation with a make-up company, and has since harnessed the initial interest in her and her opinions, to speak on issues that are important and underrepresented. And what has that year been like for her? “It’s probably been the most bizarre, yet confirming time of my life. I feel like I have a purpose now; for a long time I was drifting – conscious, but drifting – down a hallway, and all of the doors were shut. And slowly, I feel that they are opening, and I feel really positive about it. But it’s taken me a long time to feel like this.” Munroe is aware that there are areas that she needs to work on in terms of positivity – balance being one of them, particularly when it comes to work and her personal life. On this subject, Munroe says that moving forward, she would like to be more open when it comes to communicating with her girlfriend of five years. “I’m quite an open person, but when things get tough and I feel like I’m about to burn out, I shut myself off – and instead of shutting myself off I need to be around people. I need to communicate more, not just with myself – I think a little bit more patience with others would be good…” she trails off laughing. I ask her whether it’s a nervous, or knowing, laugh? 20 • happiful • March 2019
“I am probably the world’s worst girlfriend when it comes to speaking about how I feel when I am going through something. I would rather just say: ‘See you on the other side.’” “We’re strong,” she continues with obvious affection. “It’s just learnt behaviour, we’ve both had difficult things in our lives, and that is what makes us stronger together. But yes, being more open with her is something I would like to work on.” Munroe’s commitment to continuing to grow and learn is a constant theme throughout the interview, as is her understanding that we, and she, will not always get things right – personally, professionally, or ideologically. “None of us are born with good politics. None of us are born with a fine-tuned moral compass; we all learn whether or not things are right, we learn about different stories, and to empathise.” While she is concerned that we are living in a time of reduced empathy, at the same time, Munroe has high hopes for the generation growing up now. This sentiment echoes the points she made in A Qween’s Speech, a short social media film directed by Eduardo Fitch, released at the end of last year, to present an alternative to HRH’s annual address. Continues >>>
Jumpsuit | Julia Clancey
T-Shirt | American Apparel
In the film, Munroe, crown and all, focuses on the LGBTQIA+ community, and on three themes of education, legislation and reparation. Amongst other issues, she calls for greater rights for consenting sex workers, and visibility of relatable role options for children in schools and on the national curriculum, mirroring the recent changes in our wider society. “I focus so much on the younger generation, because some of the older generation will not change their mind. I put my messages out there (with the younger generation) and the response is always so positive. “The older generation may build walls, but the younger ones will tear them down, and we just really need to focus on supporting them during a time that is so negative. There’s a big collective who would prefer to demonise what they don’t understand, rather than be open. It makes me sad that people would rather fear what they don’t know, than embrace it.” Our conversation on fear expands to the subject of discomfort, and then to potential burnout from activism work. Munroe makes a comment that stays with me for days afterwards, and really makes me think. She tells me that she listens to her body when she is starting to feel burnout and stress, because otherwise she runs the risk of going into autopilot, and “autopilot is where dreams go to die…” Qualifying her statement, she adds: “I just think the comfort zone is such a dangerous place, because you become complacent, and complacency doesn’t do anything. I like to stay uncomfortable. I think everybody should be uncomfortable with certain things. Life is uncomfortable. “I’m uncomfortable with the lack of accessibility for disabled people, I’m uncomfortable about with the fact that in today’s society intersex people
The older generation may build walls, but the younger ones will tear them down, and we just really need to focus on supporting them during a time that is so negative are invisible, I’m uncomfortable with racism, sexism, period poverty… If you’re comfortable and complacent with the way things are because they don’t affect you, then that’s why things don’t change.” Societal and personal change and challenge are consistently big topics for Munroe. This is evident on her Instagram feed, where her content ranges from avant garde photo shoots, to clips from television appearances, homages to people she admires, and extracts from speeches she has given – most recently at the Women’s March in London. The day before the interview, I see that Munroe has joined the #glowupchallenge on Instagram, and rather than posting a picture of herself 10 years ago with the #10yearchallenge, she has posted one from 20 years ago. The caption reads: “I was a cute kid, so I won’t say issa glow-up, but I’m definitely more ‘myself ’ than I felt 20 years ago. Wish I could give that baby on the left [of the picture] a big hug, she needed it.” “I shared a photo of before I went to high school,” Munroe explains. “I look back on some of my photos before I transitioned, and just feel this overwhelming sense of dread. I used to think I was attaching it to the fact that I hadn’t transitioned, but it was actually because I hated my life at that point; I was going through so many things and life was hard.
“When I look at the pictures of myself as a kid, I don’t experience that. I just see a child. And if I hadn’t experienced all the bad things during the middle period – 10 years ago – then I’m sure I’d be able to look at myself like everyone looks at themselves. “But I do feel that sharing can be really healing, especially within the trans community. I saw so many trans people sharing their 10 years ago pictures, and when I first transitioned that wasn’t something you did. I’m seeing people post hormone transition journeys, and seeing people look back at how far they’ve come, and it’s a real celebration.” Later in the morning, away from the microphone, we chat over coffee. I’m keen to know what the future might hold for Munroe? “I have so many goals that I need to achieve this year, that I will achieve this year. I’m really looking forward to being more creative, I don’t feel that I got to be that creative in 2018, because so much of what I did was about facts, defence, and laying out my manifesto, so to speak.” She smiles broadly. “2019 is about building on that, and making creative, innovative moves in the direction that I want to go in, which is more entertainment-based, doing stuff outside of just speaking about identity. Continues >>> March 2019 • happiful • 23
Shirt | American Apparel
Give yourself a break, you can’t push forward being hard on yourself – I know, I’m the hardest on myself. Just allow yourself to feel the love that you deserve
“I want to be there for other people speaking about identity, rather than speaking about my own identity.” The thought of increasing creative output, as well as diversifying her social activism, clearly makes Munroe happy. I ask, what else brings her joy? “Seeing change happen. I had a wonderful experience over Christmas, when I was in Canada with my parents and my brother, and we went to the CNN Tower. We got in the lift and our tour guide started to speak about how fast we were going and what we were seeing on the horizon, and then she turned to me and said: ‘I know who you are. I’m so happy – you don’t know how much you’re doing for my kid; I have a trans son, and the way you’ve brought us closer is just amazing.’” Munroe was filming the lift experience before the conversation began, and pulls out her phone to show me. She tells me that it was a deeply emotional experience, that they hugged and have “kept in touch”. “What makes me happy is starting to see the world shrink in that way – that it’s no longer as scary as it was when I was growing up,” Munroe says. “It makes a lot more sense now.”
The time arrives for Munroe to head to our Happiful photoshoot, but I’m keen to ask one final question. What advice would you give to someone who is really struggling to love themselves? “Give yourself a break, you can’t push forward being hard on yourself – I know, I’m the hardest on myself. Just allow yourself to feel the love that you deserve, because I didn’t for the longest time. “As RuPaul says: ‘If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ It’s really simple, but such a difficult thing to crack. And, if you really can’t love yourself, respect yourself enough to know that you deserve happiness.” Listen to Munroe on our podcast 'I am. I have' – available on all major podcasting platforms. Find out more about Munroe at mbergdorf.com or follow her on Instagram @MunroeBergdorf Make Up | Bianca Spencer using Urban Decay, NARS, Ardell lashes, and Dermalogica Hair | Edmund Bossman Styling | Krishan Parmar
March 2019 • happiful • 25
Working from the comfort of your own home sounds like a dream scenario for many people, but it does come with some drawbacks – namely, how do you set boundaries and maintain a healthy work-life balance, when, technically, you’re always at work? Writing | Fiona Thomas Illustrating | Rosan Magar
hose working from home now account for 13% of the UK workforce, and with books such as Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss and Emma Gannon’s The MultiHyphen Method becoming best-sellers, the dream of being self-employed has never been more coveted. I personally felt drawn to working for myself because of the flexibility in relation to my mental illness. Living with depression and anxiety means that my capacity for work can change dramatically from day to day, even hour to hour. So having the option to rearrange my own work schedule, avoid stressful situations, and do yoga poses at my desk, seemed like a no-brainer. But let’s take a reality check, shall we? Working from home is no walk in the park. At the end of the day, it’s still a job and has its negative aspects. In fact, a 2017 study conducted by the UN found that 41% of people who tended to work from home considered themselves ‘highly stressed’, compared to just 25% of those who worked only on-site. Here’s how to strike a healthy balance when work and life collide...
1 Don’t isolate yourself
If you’re not a ‘people person’, working from home is probably your dream job, but don’t neglect your biological need for human interaction. Studies show that isolated people are likely to take insufficient exercise, have poor diets, and are less willing to visit a doctor. This can increase your stress levels, blood pressure, and inflammation in the body. Make an effort to meet up with clients in real life, arrange co-working sessions with other self-employed people in your area, or at the least strike up a conversation with your local barista.
2 Establish a routine
Kirsty Hulse, author of The Future is Freelance, tells us that although routine is very important, it’s not always sustainable. “For example,” Kirsty says, “some days I will be travelling for a meeting, others I will be at home all day, or be somewhere for an event. It’s not always feasible when you work from home to have a set routine.” Once you get to know yourself, you’ll find what your own version of a ‘routine’ looks like. A good place to start is with ‘office hours’. Try making a commitment to getting ready before 9am. This is easy to let slip when no one is watching.
3 Set physical boundaries
One of the hardest parts about working from home is the fact that you’re almost guaranteed to let work bleed into your personal life. One way to avoid this is to have a space which is dedicated to work. It doesn’t need to be an entire room (although a separate home office is ideal), but instead could be a desk hidden away from all the ‘social’ spaces in your home. My number one rule is that I never take my laptop to bed, ensuring that the bedroom is a completely work-free zone, dedicated to rest and relaxation.
41% of people who tended to work from home considered themselves ‘highly stressed’, compared to just 25% of those who worked only on-site 4 Learn to switch off
Once you have firm boundaries in place, it should be much easier to switch off. But if you’re still struggling, don’t give up. It’s all about finding the tools that work for you. For example, I know one man who has invented a daily commute to bookend his working day. He wakes up, gets washed and dressed, and then leaves the house to walk around the block before returning home to sit at his desk for a 9am start. At 5pm he packs up his things and does the same walk around the block in reverse to signify the end of his day, and his return to ‘home’ life. My version of this is decluttering my desk at 6pm, lighting a candle, putting on some music, and cooking dinner. For you, it might be a visit to the gym, a drink at the pub, or even setting an out of office reply on your email account. Pick an activity that you can look forward to, to make it your end of the day reward, and then you’ll be more likely to stick to it consistently.
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Photography | Motoki Tonn
There is no greatness. where simplicity,. goodness, and truth. are absent. â€“ LEO TOLSTOY
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | chimamanda.com
Writing | Kat Nicholls
How can we fulfil our potential, when society seems determined to keep us small?
f I were to tell you to take up more space, what would you do? Would you puff up your chest and stand a little taller? Would you speak up in that meeting at work? Would you stop apologising for who you are, and start thinking big when it came to your dreams and ambitions? This idea of taking up space is multifaceted and rooted in feminism. Speaking at TEDxEuston, writer and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered a powerful speech about feminism, including the following: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.” Society seems more open to men taking up space in the physical sense, too (manspreading anyone?), and this has very primal roots. For men, making themselves bigger is a display of dominance, while women feel discouraged to do the same for fear of not being seen as ‘feminine’. So what does it mean for women to take up space in today’s society?
I spoke to Ray Dodd, a coach who helps women do just this. “To me, taking up space is existing in the world as you really are,” says Ray. “It’s not apologising for your strengths or weaknesses, but knowing that there is enough space in the world for each individual’s individuality. We live in an unbalanced world at the moment, power and money is held by a very white, male dominated few. “For me, the more people who stand up and say, actually, I have a dream to step into that space (whatever that is, from business to art) the more balanced things will be. And yet if it was that easy, we would all be doing it right?” And this is the thing. It isn’t easy. Phrases like ‘you do you’ and ‘stay true to yourself ’ are designed to empower us, but in reality they can be simplistic when used on their own. As Ray tells me, they don’t take into consideration societal constraints that can hold us back. “It’s a process to remove those layers, and one that requires support, community, and an unlearning of so much of what we have always believed to be who we are.” Continues >>>
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We live in an incredibly unbalanced world at the moment, power and money is held by a very white, male dominated few
‘Our brain is listening to everything we say; you’d be surprised the impact that even talking more confidently can have’
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR SPACE Ray shares three steps that you can take to start owning who you are: 1. Stop apologising for your existence “Apologies are meant for when we have physically or emotionally hurt someone. Not for when someone bangs into us on the street, or when we post a picture of our less than immaculate house on Instagram, and they are certainly not for when we are not wearing any make-up. “Your appearance is no one’s business but your own. So try to stop apologising, or if that feels like a step too far, simply start to notice how much you do it – you may well be surprised.” 2. Listen to the words you use “I work with women in business, and many of them constantly refer to their businesses as ‘my little business’ or overuse words like ‘just’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘excuse me, but’. Equally they rarely talk in absolutes, they say ‘if my business works’ rather than ‘when’. Our brain is listening to everything we say; you’d be surprised the impact that even talking more confidently can have.” 3. Seek out your people “Seek out communities of people who feel like your people, who are running after similar things to you. People who can be that example to you, and support you while you become an example all of your own. There is magic in a community who will have your back and withhold judgement. Actual magic.”
When I ask Ray why women in particular tend to struggle with taking up space, she mentions that all genders can find this difficult, but that the demands placed on women, in particular, create additional challenges. “To be viewed as competent women, the demands are huge, and yet the parameters for which we can achieve this are tiny. “We should be independent and working. We should be mothers, so we shouldn’t work full-time, but we should be financially independent, on that part-time wage, because if we put our kids in childcare we don’t want them and are selfish – see also choosing not to have children at all. “We should do all of this while looking ladylike, attractive, slim (but not too slim, real women have curves after all), not too opinionated or loud, fun but not too funny, with a clean house, a membership to a gym, a nice selection of friends we regularly socialise with, family we care for, and hairless bodies. Oh, and then can you also follow your dreams please? “It’s exhausting, relentless and impossible to do all of those things, neither is it in any way OK to lay out how women should exist.” So, where do we go from here? How do we overcome these obstacles to claim our space? One essential ingredient, Ray mentions, is representation. “Human beings are lovers of patterns. We want to see examples laid before us, we seek them out, they are a large part of how our brains work and how society functions. In order to take up space in the world in ways we have not seen before, we need to break a number of those patterns; we need to tread a path that is yet to be made.” Treading new paths, even when you have examples of others who
In order to take up space, we need to break a number of patterns, we need to tread a path that is yet to be made
have done it, can still be terrifying. Fear and self-doubt can overshadow every step you take. Building up a sense of self-belief, and taking small steps is key. It’s also important to show yourself compassion throughout the process. Recognise that what you’re doing isn’t easy, and takes a great deal of strength. Allow yourself wobbles of confidence, and moments of uncertainty. Try and lift any ‘shoulds’ weighing you down, and focus on what makes your heart sing. If you can do that, you can do anything. Learn more about Ray’s work, including her fantastic Facebook groups that bring together like-minded women, at raydodd.co.uk March 2019 • happiful • 31
N O T O R I O U S LY
So often people only imagine women to have body confidence issues, but author, model and fashion blogger Kelvin Davis is speaking out to break the mould. While the world around him left him feeling under-represented, and self-conscious, through his love of fashion, he’s changing that world one stitch at a time Writing | Kelvin Davis
hen people think of the term body positivity, they often think of women and the body issues many experience. Many never associate men with having the same feelings or emotions when it comes to how we look at our bodies. The harsh reality is that we do, and a lot of men suffer in silence. We live in a world where society has this toxic idea of what being a man is. As boys, we are told not to cry, not to be sensitive, and to ‘man up’. This has led many boys and men to not speak about their emotional issues, which in turn affects our mental health as we grow older. Thankfully, I had a father who did the exact opposite of what society did. He encouraged me to talk about my issues, problems, and taught me ways to release them. Growing up, I always suffered from some sort of issue due to lack of representation. I didn’t realise until I was older how much I was affected by not having other people around who
looked like me when I went to school or extracurricular activities. Yes, I had my parents, but I longed for a role model outside of my family. I was a short, chubby kid growing up, sometimes teased for being on the chunky side. I remember when one of my friends told me I looked like Notorious B.I.G., and it was one of the first times I could remember feeling cool. Especially then, because I was shopping in the dreadful ‘husky’ clothing section. My mom had a way of making the husky section sound cool, as if it was some exclusive club for the cool kids. I remember getting a pair of jeans, and one of the ‘cool’ girls complimenting me on them the next week. With pride, I told her they were from the husky section. She laughed and said: “The ‘fat boy’ section, you mean?” I was so hurt. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. That was one of the first times I remember being publicly body-shamed. The feeling was horrendous; it affected me the rest of that week.
As time went on, my interest in fashion and art continued to grow fiercely. Even as a kid I liked mixing and matching colors, patterns and styles to create my own outfits – I actually started doing my laundry in elementary school. Being able to have such a strong eye for colour helped me to become well known for dressing nicely. One of my peak style moments was in high school, when my mother bought me a bright pink polo from Ralph Lauren. I was in shock and awe; not only at the fact that she got it for me, but also at the realisation that pink was finally being made in boys’ and men’s clothing. It was a big moment for myself and many others around the world, especially in the fashion industry. When I wore that polo the next day (I was the first male to rock pink at my high school) I had all kinds of reactions, from the highest praise to being called derogatory names. Unbeknownst to me, there was a rapper on the rise (Kanye West) who rocked pink polos as well. Continues >>>
Many people at school gave me the nickname Kanye East, because my style was just as innovative at the time. While Kanye was changing the way rappers were perceived via style, I was doing the same at my high school. Little did I know I had set a trend, and over the course of the following months, nearly half the male students were wearing pink polos. In a way, I was responsible for changing the conversation of what many people around me thought was a ‘girls’ colour’. Some of the bullies became less toxic and more open about who they were. It was really beautiful to watch some of the same guys I had class with compliment me on my outfits, when a few weeks before they were saying negative things about them. Years later, I was in college at the University of South Carolina, studying Art Education. I was well known at my college for the way I dressed, and for having a vibrant personality. Even with some of the body image issues, anxiety, and girl problems I had, I was still somewhat confident because of my ability to dress well. During my senior year of college, I met my wife. She was a Spanish major and I needed help in my Spanish class. She helped me pass, I asked her out on a date, and the rest is history. When we had our first daughter, we were both still very young. Fresh out of college and scared of becoming first-time parents. It was then that I landed my first job as a teacher, and I needed to get some professionallooking clothing. My friend Adam came into town, so we went shopping together to catch up. We went to one of our favorite stores that I loved because the clothes allowed you to look professional, but you didn’t have to sacrifice your style to do so. While we were shopping, I spotted a bright red blazer, and wanted it so badly! Unfortunately the largest
size they had was one or two smaller than I usually wear. I gave it a try and it barely went past my elbows. I asked the sales associate to check if they had any larger sizes – which seemed to irritate her. She checked, before assuring me that this was the largest size they carried. With clear disappointment on my face I said: “OK, maybe I’ll try another store.” She replied: “Yeah, maybe you’re just too big to shop here!” and walked away. It bothered me so much, and brought back one of my first true memories of being body-shamed publicly.
I bought a camera and started to take pictures even on my most insecure days, to show people that style has no size, and beauty has no boundaries I couldn’t shake the feeling of my body insecurity. I remember going to Facebook to type a status about it to vent and get some support from my friends online. But as I was typing, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t get the same reaction that a female would get. I knew that I was going to be bashed with the “go to the gym”, “get over it” type of comments. I deleted the draft and never posted it. The feeling never went away. I became more aware of my weight and I began to hate the way I looked. I wanted to feel good, I wanted to bring light to the darkness of male body image, and the toxic masculinity that exists with it. I always had the
desire to start a blog, so in 2013 I decided to make a body positive menswear blog; a place where all men – especially bigger guys – could go to find style inspiration and words of encouragement. As I was always known for dressing nicely, I decided to call it Notoriously Dapper. I bought a camera and started to take pictures even on my most insecure days, to show people that style has no size, and beauty has no boundaries. Even on my worst days I always knew that no matter how low my confidence was, how bald I was, or how big I had gotten, I would always be the best dressed guy in the room. My site and Instagram became a visual alternative to all the slim, fairskinned models in advertisements we were all used to seeing. People liked what I was doing because representation matters more than we think. I decided to represent not only a body type, but also a skin tone that was not as celebrated as others. Because of that bad shopping experience, I have been able to impact others in a way I never thought was possible. I have become an awardnominated author with my book, Notoriously Dapper: How to Be a Modern Gentleman with Manners, Style and Body Confidence. I have become an in-demand model, and provide representation in campaigns for Target, GAP and more. I have been in a commercial alongside DJ Khaled. And most importantly, I’ve been able to have some influence on brands that are now releasing larger sizes, to fit people of all shapes and sizes. We all deserve to feel beautiful, no matter who we are. When you look good, you do good. And when you do good, you can change this world. Don’t believe me? Just look at what I’ve been able to accomplish. Never discredit your ideas or dreams. You are worthy of everything you dream of. Work hard, stay positive and, most of all, always be kind.
Photography | Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis is a body positive author, blogger, model, and style guru, represented by BRIDGE Models. Find out more by visiting his website, notoriouslydapper.com, and follow him on Instagram @notoriouslydapper
March 2019 â€˘ happiful â€˘ 35
Photography | Rawpixel
A friend is someone. who gives you total. freedom to be yourself. – JIM MORRISON
Content Warning: This story contains the topic of self-harm that some readers may find distressing
Fighting together Jamie-Leigh spent years living in fear when the voices in her head grew deafening. While going into a mental health unit was terrifying, it meant she got the support she so desperately needed Writing | Jamie-Leigh Mackintosh
ife isn’t easy, nobody has ever said it is. But one thing it is, is worth it. So, just as I’ve learnt to do, keep fighting, shake your head, and carry on. You can do this. We can do this together. I remember the first time I heard voices – I was about 14 years old. My family were not aware of what was going on, and just thought I was acting up. I was so scared I could hear things, and didn’t know where they were coming from. I didn’t know much about voices or what I was going through at the time. I ended up running away from home, and remember being dragged out of a bush by a policeman who told me I was a silly girl and wasting police time... Neither of us understood what was really going on. Then, about two years ago, I was in the worst place I had been in a long time. The voices started up again really badly, telling me that they were coming for me, that
they were coming for my family. With all this going on in my head, I did the only thing I could rationalise at that time; I ran away from home again. I had only made it into our local town of Thetford, in Norfolk, when the voices in my head started going crazy, and I happened to literally bump into my uncles. I remember my uncles following behind me, concerned, flagging down a passing police car. At this point, I ran as fast as my legs could take me. When I reached the local river, I realised there was nowhere else to run. I stopped, turned round, and noticed how many police were coming towards me. I had a huge phobia of the police, which I have only recently overcome. As soon as I realise they aren’t going to hurt me, I feel safer. But in that moment, I was terrified. Continues >>>
Jamie-Leigh with her mum Lorna, and nan Maggie
This was the point when the voices told me that my family had been taken and replaced with shapeshifters, known as goblins. I was so scared
I kept walking backwards, away from them, until I ended up in the actual river. It was the middle of winter and freezing cold, but with all the adrenaline flooding through me, I felt hot. The police officers hauled me out of the water, trying to get through to me while I was fighting them off – I just didn’t understand that they were there to help. This was the point when the voices told me that my family had been taken and replaced with shapeshifters, known as goblins. My mum arrived at the scene, but I was convinced she was a goblin who’d come to get me, and I was so scared. 38 • happiful • March 2019
I can’t describe to you what that feeling was like. My whole world was caving in around me. My family were my everything, my strength and my fight was in them, and with the voices telling me they were goblins, it felt like I’d lost everything. The police put me on a section 136 – which is a law under the Mental Health Act allowing them to remove me from public if they are concerned for my safety, and are worried about my mental state. They took me to Wedgwood House – a mental health unit in Suffolk Hospital. I was so scared, and didn’t really know what was going on. I was transferred around the hospital, and was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
This is a condition where you display ‘affective dysregulation’ (emotional instability), often have cognitive distortions and impulsive behaviour. I had never heard of BPD before I was diagnosed. I remember a member of staff sitting down with me and explaining it. I felt heartbroken, and at the same time was relieved, because I finally knew what was making my life so difficult. I was so unwell and afraid of the voices that I was self-harming every day, believing that I was punishing myself to keep my family safe. I would burn myself, starve myself, cutting, and harming myself – anything I could do. I remember being so afraid I’d forget my family in there; I
would look through videos and photos and start crying, trying to remember every detail of them. A few months on, the doctors decided it was in my best interest to be injected with haloperidol – an antipsychotic medication. At first this felt like the end of the world, because I didn’t think I was ill. But a few weeks on, I started feeling more like myself again, and I stopped starving myself. A few weeks after that, the voices had got a lot weaker. I didn’t believe what they were saying anymore, and I realised my family was still there and OK. I got in touch with them just after Christmas, and they came to visit me straight away. Although I was still scared, as soon as I realised it was them, I felt so much happiness. But I also felt guilt, as I realised it had been them all along, and not the goblins the voices told me they were. I continued to have the injections, and continued to improve. When I was put on other medications, I then took them all willingly, because I finally knew that I needed them.
Jamie-Leigh is now on a mission to help other people in crisis
If anyone wants a ‘fighting together box’, you can contact Jamie-Leigh by searching ‘JayLeighs target to a brighter mental health system’ on Facebook.
I’ve learnt the value of having things to reassure you, calm you and make you feel better when you’re in crisis I now take various medications, and am in a much better place, starting to feel positive and much better about life. It’s like I have a spring in my step again. However, it’s not been a straightforward journey. I have spent a lot of time in Wedgwood, with the longest admission being around seven months, but there’s also been a lot of one to two week admissions. Now, I go to a care farm twice a week,
and have met some amazing people. It’s a place I can go to get away and get me out of the house, where you can socialise, but also get out in nature and help care for the animals. We also get to play games together, and the staff are all amazing. I’ve made some really good friends there, too. From my own experience, I’ve learnt the value of having things to reassure you, calm you, and make you feel better when you’re in crisis. This has inspired me to make what I call ‘fighting together boxes’, which are full of little things to help people in crisis. They include everything from suicide helpline numbers, to sweets, colouring pages and crayons, a book to write how they’re feeling in, and another with helpful quotes. I also include elastic bands, bath bombs to help relax people, and my Facebook details, so that people can get in touch with me if they feel alone.
When putting together the boxes, I thought about lots of bits that would have helped me to feel less alone. Now, I want to help someone else. While my voices tell me I’m a bad person, I want to prove them wrong. I want to take my family on holiday, to be there for other people, and
to help someone fighting mental illness to feel less alone. That is the point of my fighting together boxes; my hope is that if they can help just one person, I’ll have achieved my goal. A final little note from me: stay strong. Keep going. You can do this!
Our Expert Says Jamie-Leigh had a difficult journey, with the voices of her illness distorting her world, and isolating her from her family and support. Although hospital admission helped by bringing a diagnosis and treatment, as with many people, it is difficult to accept the illness, particularly while fighting the voices. Yet, with the right medication, Jamie-Leigh reconnects with her family and health, and discovers ways to help herself and others. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor
March 2019 • happiful • 39
£ Money matters:
how to get ahead
It’s no secret, money worries have the ability to rob us of positive mental health, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some priceless tips that can save you both cash and stress Writing | Maurice Richmond Illustrating | Rosan Magar
he state of our mental health can often be reflected by that of our bank account. The stress of debt, trying to balance our expenses, and the price of prescriptions, amongst other things, can all add up to impact our mental health. For those with serious concerns for their finances, it’s best to seek advice and support sooner than later – online resources such as moneysavingexpert.com and citizensadvice.org.uk are good places to start. For those who aren’t in a dire situation, but feel the pressure to stretch that paycheck each month, here are a few simple steps to support our finances, and in turn help us capture that priceless feeling of positive wellbeing.
40 • happiful • March 2019
1 Don’t be afraid to haggle It comes down to simple economics; shops want to make a profit, but you want to get value for money. By law, you don’t have to accept the ticketed price first off; no contract has been struck until money has changed hands. So, there is often a opportunity to ask for a deal. If it’s your first go at haggling, maybe ease yourself in by asking the retailer if they can throw something in with your purchase as a starting point. Aim to add
something smaller in value than the main purchase, preferably that accompanies it – an HDMI cable for your TV, an electrical appliance with your kitchen, or a belt with your new jeans. If you can aim to chat with the store supervisor or assistant manager, use their experience and understanding of customer satisfaction to your advantage. You may be told no, but you also never know unless you ask.
2. Speak the retailers’ language
Money Saving Expert (MSE) has tapped into a potential little goldmine, with retailers using price codes to secretly tell staff which models need to be offloaded sharpish. This holds true with some electrical retailers, who need to make way for new stock, as their shelf space is at a premium. The key lies in the price – the last digit to be precise. While most prices end in 9 or 0, if one ends in 7 or 8 (£29.97 or £184.98 for example), it usually means it’s a discontinued product. Better still, if it ends in a 1 (so, £23.91), the model is often very old clearance stock, and the store just wants it gone. These might be your best bet to negotiate on. MSE has also revealed you can use a bit of insider knowledge from the comfort of your own home. Stock up your online shopping basket as normal, and proceed to the payment page. But before entering your card details, close the browser tab and abandon your shop for the night. As if by magic, you could end up getting a discount code emailed to you the following morning. Shoppers revealed to MSE that H&M, ASOS and Tesco have sent out discounts. Make sure you’re signed up as an account holder, as it means they’ll have your email address saved, and you could receive that all important code.
CURB THE IMPULSE BUYS Seen something you like in store? Stop! Ask yourself these questions before putting it in your basket: • Can I afford it? • Do I really need it, or am I buying it because it’s on sale? • Can I pay less in another shop or online? If in doubt, ask a friend or family member’s opinion.
3 Play the long game
Budget, save, plan. All very easy words to say, but how do we go about putting them into practice? One way is calling for a little help from our tech friends. Meet Bean, an app which will help you manage your money impartially, and free of charge. The magic behind the app is that it sifts through your account, detects rarely used subscriptions, and where you may be overpaying on your bills. It even suggests where you can find the cheaper alternatives. Another helpful app is Money Dashboard, which allows you to set goals for different parts of your finances. Thinking ahead is crucial, and the more we think about where our money is really going, the easier it may be to find places to cut back.
Since the link between money and health is the fundamental theme here, there’s also littleknown savings you could make on your prescriptions. Common medication, such as painkillers and skin creams, are available over the counter, and at a fraction of the prescription price. Alternatively, a prepayment certificate could be a big saver for regular prescription users. It effectively acts as season ticket; you pay £29.10 for three months or £104 for a year, which covers all of your prescriptions in that timeframe. Just two prescriptions a month under an annual ‘season ticket’ could help save you more than £100.
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A world free from FGC More than 200 million girls and women live with the consequences of female genital cutting (FGC), and a further 3.9 million are at risk of being cut each year. We speak to the charity at the forefront of the movement to end it Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
Julia Lalla-Maharajh was volunteering in Ethiopia when she first encountered female genital cutting (FGC) – a harmful practice where the female genitals are cut, injured, or changed, without a medical reason to do so. Back in the 2000s, Julia admits she didn’t know much about the practice, but was shocked to learn that 74% of the women in the country underwent FGC. She soon saw the way that FGC can entirely change the trajectory of a girl’s life – from child-marriage, to school dropouts, and a lifetime of physical and psychological damage. “I then met two adorable little girls in Lalibela, Ethiopia, who were trying to sell me trinkets,” Julia tells us, as she reflects on the moment she knew she had to take a stand. “The thought that they could be subjected to FGC, and there was nothing I could do to stop it, compelled me to dedicate my life to this cause.” And so Julia founded the Orchid Project. Named so to represent a sense of blossoming that happens when girls reach their full potential, the Orchid Project is a charity that uses advocacy and partnerships with grassroots organisations to support abandonment of FGC. So, how do they do it?
WHAT IS FGC? Before we can start looking at solutions, we have to understand what FGC means, how dire the consequences can be, and how urgent the call for change is. Across the world, there are four main types of FGC – also known as ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM) or ‘female circumcision’. The procedures are usually done on girls from infancy up until 15 years old, and may involve the removal of the clitoris, labia minora or labia majora, a sealing of the vaginal opening with just a small hole left for urine and menstration, or pricking, scraping or burning of the vulva. Generally, these procedures take place without anaesthetics, and also without the girl’s consent, although it’s also increasingly happening in medical settings. There are various reasons why parents may choose the procedure for their daughters, though these are often tied up in ideas about purity and virginity, and women who are not cut may be shunned by their community later in life. The World Health Organisation is clear that there are no known health benefits of FGC, while the UN recognises FGC as a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights. And yet FGC happens in 30 countries around the globe –
though this is only the total for countries where national data is available. From anecdotal reports, the Orchid Project believes the number is at least 45. LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF FGC According to nhs.uk, sideeffects of FGC may include: •C onstant pain •P ain during sex, or difficulty having sex •R epeated infections, which can lead to infertility •P roblems passing urine, or incontinence •C omplications during labour and childbirth, which can be lifethreatening for mother and baby •B leeding cysts and abscesses •P TSD, depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems The majority of cases take place across Africa and in Iraq, Yemen and Indonesia, but FGC also happens in immigrant communities, and it is estimated that there are around 500,000 women in Europe living with the consequences of FGC. Continues >>> March 2019 • happiful • 43
Dancers and girls at a public declaration ceremony of FGC abandonment in Senegal, February 2017
Photography | Maasi: S.A.F.E. Kenya, Other: Orchid Project
Maasai from the Loita Hills in southern Kenya are raising awareness and discussing issues around FGC, with 30% of the community having already transitioned to an alternative rite of passage, so girls graduate into womanhood and remain uncut
ON THE GROUND Rather than a religious requirement, FGC is a ‘social norm’ – or cultural tradition – held by a community, that is thought to date back to 2,200 BC. For this reason, supporting communities to lead change themselves is the most effective way of making a change, and had to be an essential part of the work that the Orchid Project does. “When tackling any issue, it’s essential that the voices of those it affects are front and centre in the solution,” says Julia, who points to the charity’s grassroots partners such as S.A.F.E. Kenya, which recently saw 4,000 Maasai come together to publically declare an end to FGC in Loita Hills, south Kenya. “FGC is often a highly sensitive topic. In the communities we work with in Kenya, West Africa and India, it may never have been spoken about before.
When tackling any issue, it’s essential that the voices of those it affects are front and centre in the solution “That’s why it’s vital to end the practice from within, rather than being imposed by outsiders. What we’re seeing now is whole communities coming together to discuss their experiences around FGC for the first time, through the work of pioneering, grassroots organisations.” CLOSER TO HOME “One of the most common misconceptions about FGC is that it only happens in Africa,” says Julia. “It’s
important to note that the practice continues within refugee, diaspora and migrant communities all around the world, including in the UK.” In the UK, FGC is a criminal offence that comes with a prison sentence of up to five years. Despite this, research from City University estimates that 144,000 girls are at risk of FGC in England and Wales. In an effort to raise awareness that this is happening all around us, in 2018 the Orchid Project ran their London Postcard campaign. Across the capital, 1,000 postcards – with messages about FGC and how it affects girls globally – were left around the city. “FGC isn’t something that is just happening ‘somewhere else’,” says Julia. “It’s an issue we can all do something about, even just by talking.” A NON-JUDGEMENTAL APPROACH A key characteristic of the Orchid Project’s work is that it is ‘nonjudgemental’. To Julia, this means working with the communities in a way that does not create barriers, or alienate anyone. “It means approaching the subject as equals, without casting judgement on a community or why they practice FGC,” Julia tells us. “It’s important to understand that, in the communities we work with, parents choose to cut their daughters because they believe it is the right thing to do to ensure her future. FGC is often a deeply entrenched social norm, held in place by a whole community. It continues unquestioned, because it’s a tradition that is passed from generation to generation.” Julia explains that it’s common for those in the communities to not make the connection between FGC and its devastating health consequences. “It’s important to approach this subject without judgement in order to open up a dialogue, so these issues can be discussed,” says Julia.
HIGH HOPES In spite of the prevalence of FGC, and the devastating effects that it has on survivors around the world, Julia tells us that she is hopeful for the future. “Thousands of communities all over the world have already abandoned FGC,” she tells us. “Their daughters and all future generations will benefit from that historic decision, and I know we can spread that change all around the world.” In 2015, the UN set a goal to end FGC by 2030. It’s ambitious, but it can be done. Whether through becoming an advocate, spreading awareness, or raising funds for vital intercommunity projects, if we’re willing to take it, each of us has a role to play in the ending of FGC. To find out more about the Orchid Project and to donate, visit orchidproject.org
If someone is in immediate danger from FGC, call 999. If you are concerned someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC on 0800 028 3550 or email@example.com
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This year, Lorraine Kelly celebrates 35 years in broadcasting – from a researcher at the BBC, hosting GMTV, Daybreak and, of course, her much-loved daytime show Lorraine. But in 2016, none of Lorraine’s 1.6 million viewers could have imagined her emotional struggle away from the cameras. Here, Lorraine reveals how the menopause affected her mental wellbeing, and how her recovery inspired her to get the nation talking about menopause Writing | Gemma Calvert
ackstage at Television Centre in north London, Lorraine Kelly is admiring two certificates on her dressing room wall, following an expedition to Antarctica in 2016. The trip wasn’t part of an environmental segment for her ITV daytime show Lorraine, but to celebrate 25 years of marriage to her beloved husband, retired cameraman Steve Smith. “I like a challenge. Going to Antarctica was amazing. That’s me and my husband at the bottom with king penguins,” she says, pointing to a photograph of the beaming pair taken with her favourite animals. “I use Google Earth to see places I want to visit; I last keyed in Greenland. I want to go to Nuuk, the capital.” For Lorraine, a die-hard fan of explorer Ernest Shackleton, the polar pilgrimage will forever be one of her
most memorable journeys. Now, another is imminent. Next month, the queen of daytime TV will enrol at astronaut training school in Florida, one of many challenges this year – her 35th anniversary in broadcasting. The surprise trip was unveiled on her birthday last November, prompting space fanatic Lorraine to burst into tears of happiness live on TV. She was 10 years old when she watched the first moon landing with her father, and the prospect of experiencing weightlessness, just like her hero Buzz Aldrin and his comrades did in 1969, was overwhelming. Yet Lorraine’s most profound voyage in recent years has not been physical, but mental. In April 2016, during a holiday to Spain with Steve, she observed that the joy in her life was languishing. Activities that once sparked
happiness, now felt unexpectedly 'flat’, and her job, which began in 1984 presenting Scottish news on TV-am and led to anchor roles on GMTV, Daybreak and Lorraine, suddenly felt like 'effort’. Lorraine – mum to Rosie, 24 – also began experiencing anxiety. With her 60th birthday approaching, Lorraine sits down with Happiful to explain how the hormonal transition of menopause triggered the lowest time of her life, but how medical help, fitness, and the support of loved ones helped her through…
Lorraine, when did you first notice you weren’t feeling yourself? I was in Cordoba, one
of the most beautiful cities in the south of Spain, with Steve, and I just felt flat. There was no enjoyment. It was like I’d lost myself. It was really strange. Continues >>>
Lorraine on set of her daytime TV show
I said to Steve: “I don’t understand, I don’t feel any joy.” He suggested having a word with Dr Hilary Jones [Good Morning Britain’s resident doctor] who put me in touch with menopause expert Dr Louise Newson. I’d been on hormone replacement therapy patches for about a year and a half, and she saw I needed more oestrogen. At the time, even making an appointment was a big deal, everything became difficult. It was like wading through glue. I was lucky it was hormonal. When I got the different patch, all of a sudden the world was in colour again.
By speaking about menopause, was it your intention to break the taboo? Not really. I just think
nothing’s off limits. I started talking about it, and then all of a sudden Ulrika [Jonsson] did an interview with me, Carol Vorderman did an interview, Meg Mathews as well, and the reaction we got was unbelievable. Women were coming up to me in the street with tears in their eyes, saying thank you.
If a woman is feeling down and of menopausal age, what would you recommend? It doesn’t matter
what age you are, because people can go through the menopause at any age. Make sure you’ve got a GP who is sympathetic, and get it checked out. Also ask for help. Talk to your pals. Don’t think it’s a failure. That phrase – it’s OK not to be OK – is true.
How did it affect you at work?
It was the first time ever that I felt, not that I was putting a facade on, but it was an effort, whereas it’s not normally. I just go on and do what I do, but I was finding that I was really having to give myself a talking to. It was exhausting. When I got the different patch, it really was life changing.
What do you do now when you feel overwhelmed? I go for a really good walk with my dog, Angus. Just looking at that wee face, cheers me up. You can be away for two minutes or two years, and get the same enthusiastic welcome.
Has your experience helped you to better understand guests who’ve been through depression? Totally. I was lucky I
got it sorted out quickly. My heart goes out to people who are struggling with mental health problems. It’s huge now, especially among young men. The first person I ever spoke to about mental health – way back during the TV-am days, when people didn’t talk about it – was Rod Steiger, the actor. He was talking about how difficult it was for people like him to get work. He said: “I’m down a deep dark well and nobody knows what it’s like.” I remember thinking how brave he was, 48 • happiful • March 2019
I was lucky it was hormonal. When I got the different patch, all of a sudden the world was in colour again and how ahead of his time. After that, he went back to the US, spoke openly about it, and hardly worked again. People like that were pioneers.
You got into fitness after a Comic Relief desert trek to Africa in 2011. Describe that turning point for your health.
I came back and thought: “I need to do something healthy.” Health has to be a lifestyle. Exercise is not just about my body, it’s like having a spring clean in my head. Sometimes I drag myself to an exercise class, and it makes me feel so much better in all ways. It’s almost like the mental health benefits are better than the physical ones.
Congratulations on your 35year broadcasting anniversary. What advice would you give to yourself at the start of your career? Not to have worried as
much. Obviously, as a parent, you always worry about your kids, but I think of all the time I’ve wasted worrying about stuff I can’t do anything about. As you get older, you don’t worry quite as much, but when TV-am stopped [in 1993] I didn’t know if I was being kept on, so I got my CV and went round all the TV stations in the UK, I went up to Scotland, I knocked on doors. Then, when I started on GMTV, I went [off] to have Rosie and then was replaced by Anthea Turner.
How did you cope with that, especially so soon after becoming a new mum? It was
terrible. Awful. Rosie was born in the June, I was supposed to go back in the September. Then I was offered a mum and baby slot for two mornings a week, those shows did brilliantly, and in the January I got my own show [Lorraine Live]. Happy days!
Watch 'Lorraine' weekdays on ITV, 8.30–9.25am
Did becoming a mum change your attitude to work? For sure.
It made work ‘just a job’, because the most important thing in the world becomes your child.
Photography | Nicky Johnston
What's been the hardest story to cover? Doing the first interview
with Madeleine McCann’s parents shortly after she disappeared, and thinking, “I hope I’m not going to be talking to these poor people in 10 years time.” Well, we’re now more than 10 years on. I found that hard. When I was covering the Dunblane Primary School massacre [in March 1996], I got a call from the police, saying: “A lady has lost her daughter, and she’d like to talk to you.” Pam Ross’ daughter Joanna was five when she was murdered, and Pam also had a baby girl, Ali. A couple of years ago, 20 years after the atrocity, Ali was a guest on my show. The interview was astonishing. It was so moving, and I had to do that [Lorraine grips her hands in her lap] to not cry.
Health has to be a lifestyle. Exercise is not just about my body, it’s like having a spring clean in my head
When Rosie landed a PR job in Singapore two and a half years ago, was it harder to say goodbye because she’s your only child? It was in a way.
You bring up your children to be independent, then they go and be independent – how dare they? At the same time, I was really pleased for her. For about a year, she worked for a charity that helps single mums in jail, usually because of drugs and prostitution, because it’s the only way they can raise money to support their children. Then she got a job with a PR company – it was very brave of her to go to a foreign country and do that at 21 years old.
Do you worry about her?
I’ve never really worried about her wellbeing, because she’s an old soul. She’s much more grown up than I will ever be, and she’s very steady and sensible.
You seem to have an amazing bond… We do, but I’m her mum, not her friend. I remember when the Duchess of York was going out dating with her daughters years ago, and she used to call them ‘the tripod’. No, no, no! You’re the mum! I would love to think my daughter tells me everything. But of course, she doesn’t. She’s got her pals for that!
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Put yourself first A study published in the Journal of Marketing found that, when chasing our dreams, ‘external representation, which increases the ease of visualising the goal, enhances goal pursuit’. Put simply: you gotta’ see it to be it. When we put our goals down on paper, we’re making a commitment to ourselves.We’re taking the things that we care about, and strive for, seriously. This month, we’re asking you to put yourself first.
Don’t forg et to tag @happifu l_magazin e on Insta to show us your board s! To help out, we’ve got some options. The first is a collection of prompts and cards to help you create your own visualisation board or collage. The second is a wall hanging, with a message to inspire you through the spring. To create the wall hanging we tapped into the infinite wisdom of you, our readers – and this month’s mantra comes from Jess from Cwmbran, Wales. Whether it’s a career goal, health inspo, or a livin’ life to the full mission, celebrate what you have, and what’s still out there for the picking. And if you can’t choose between the wall hanging and the prompts and cards, don’t worry! Both are available to download for free from shop.happiful.com
It’s OK to be vulnerable A lifetime of secret suffering came to a head for Stephen when, three years ago, he had a breakdown. But what felt like hitting rock bottom, soon became a platform for him to create positive change in his life Writing | Stephen Gillatt
or the past 25 years, I’ve experienced mental illness (including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, mania, insomnia, paranoia, binge-eating, and body dysmorphia), addiction and postnatal depression. I also have experience of self-harm, and suicide (thoughts and attempts). About 15 years ago – the night before I left my first wife – I tried to end it all. I used as many pills as I could, washed down with alcohol. I slipped into unconsciousness, but my up-jerk reflex saved me that night, waking me, and rapidly emptying the contents of my stomach. After I cleaned myself up, I went to my parents’ house, told them I’d left her, but never told them about my attempt. I finally did that last year, after more than a decade, and three years on and off therapy. This was the culmination of the pain and suffering I experienced
as a result of weight issues, bullying, and rejection, which started from my early teens. I wasn’t bad looking, and played a lot of sport; still I got the shit ripped out of me for being a ‘fat bastard’. While my friends were out getting girls, I was getting hammered – the bottom of a bottle, my mistress. One night, about 20 years ago, I’d been out drinking all day. As it approached last orders, I started talking to a beautiful lady who was sitting on her own. I still remember her looking at me and saying: “I’d go out with you if you didn’t drink so much.” We never went out. At the time, I thought it was helping me, but drinking was doing serious mental and emotional damage. My addictive personality trait was already there, and as my self-esteem worsened, my relationship with alcohol became more damaging. Continues >>>
For years, Stephen hid how he was feeling, and what he was going through, from everyone around him
I went through long periods of time going out alone, drinking alone, and gambling huge. I was just a shell, existing in my own lonely, detached world. Pint in one hand, pound coins in the other Things began to spiral out of control, as did my gambling addiction. I went through long periods of time going out alone, drinking alone, and gambling huge. But large wins and losses meant nothing, I was just a shell, existing in my own lonely, detached world. Pint in one hand, pound coins in the other. Pain in my heart, and a f**ked-up head. I felt like I didn’t deserve people, relationships, love, or oxygen. My only companion 52 • happiful • March 2019
was booze, and the damage it was doing to me was something I didn’t see – or chose to ignore. Eventually, through Gamblers Anonymous, I beat that addiction, and never told anyone (until last year) about that either. I married my beautiful, current wife, in 2012. She’s a staggering lady, and has blessed me with two spectacular daughters. But even then, my mental health was still bad, and like so
many men, I didn’t talk about it. This was partly because I didn’t know how to talk, and partly because I didn’t know what my friends and family would think – and that petrified me. We should never, ever feel like this. We should be able and comfortable to talk openly. But the fact that male suicides are so high, shows this is not easy, and society still doesn’t know how to manage the size of the mental illness crisis it faces. About three years ago, everything finally came to a head. I had a breakdown. I was signed off work for seven weeks, and for the first three, I didn’t step one foot outside the house – and barely left my bedroom. I sometimes went days without eating, getting out of bed, or taking a shower. My only rare communication with friends was via text. Three of the most painful, but most important,
conversations of my life followed. I still remember them as if they were this morning – standing by my bedroom window, explaining everything to my parents, my boss and then, most importantly, my wife. As painful as it was, I had to admit I could not longer cope, and needed help. People felt guilty that they’d not helped me, or ‘saved me’… But how can anybody help us if they don’t know we’re in trouble? Only we can truly save ourselves. But so many positives came from this, and this is what I hold on to, and what I’d say to everyone who is suffering in silence. Opening-up and baring it all brought me closer to my wife, friends and family. It wasn’t a click-ofthe-fingers thing – it’s taken time – but now me and my wife are taking small steps together, sometimes forward, sometimes backwards, but always together.
Stephen is keen to show other men it’s OK to admit they need help
It’s taken time, but me and my wife are taking small steps together, sometimes forward, sometimes backwards, but always together ‘Mad, Sad, Dysfunctional Dad’ will be available from bookstores in March, as well as via Amazon and theconradpress.com One thing I learned quickly and painfully was how my mental illness affected my current wife, and our marriage. I have never used mental illness as an excuse for shitty behaviour, but sometimes, no matter how strong you try to be, the wheels come off. She has been truly amazing through my illness, and stood by me through everything. Not one day goes by when I don’t think how lucky I am. Without her, I would never be in the position I am now. Shortly after telling her, I went to my doctor, and found a therapist. I spoke to a local medical herbalist to select a herbal medicine to use in conjunction with my therapy. I was offered selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), but they scared the shit out of me.
While I understand they can transform and save lives, I’ve never taken one personally. I started writing a diary and poetry to help process things. A month or so later, it turned into a book. I continued to write over the next two years, and in March, Mad, Sad, Dysfunctional Dad will be published. It’s a true-life account of 18 months of struggles with mental illness – balanced against the joys and responsibility of becoming a father for the second time. I hope it will show the challenges faced by people with mental illness, and how it affects family life, relationships, and a person’s ability to live and function day-to-day. But also, the progress we can make by taking that first step – opening-up and seeking help.
I want to show it’s OK for men to be vulnerable, admit we’re experiencing problems, and need help. To show the importance of early intervention, and how it can save relationships and lives. In today’s progressive and inclusive society, nobody should feel embarrassed and isolated, and held back by fear of being ridiculed, judged or ignored. I still have my professional support network in place today. Once you have professionals around you, who you can trust, you
have the foundations for progress. My support network has helped me to start understanding and accepting myself more, and to reconnect with the people around me. I’m not totally better, and the reality is many of us never will be. But even though I still have rough patches, I’m more comfortable in myself, enjoying life more, and most importantly, my wife and daughters have their husband and daddy back. Remember, talking changes lives.
Our Expert Says Stephen’s candid story shows the importance of talking, both to the people who love us, and to professionals who can support healing. Stephen’s honesty and courage in sharing while on his journey to recovery show there is no need to fear speaking out. The rate of male suicide is, as Stephen says, a mental health crisis we need to be addressing; I encourage anyone, male or female, who is feeling at risk, to talk to someone. It can make a big difference, and start a road to recovery. Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
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GRIEF SUPPORT SERVICES • Cruse Bereavement Care: Access face-to-face, telephone, email and website support. Call 0808 808 1677, or visit cruse.org.uk • Death Cafes: An opportunity for people to gather, eat cake, drink tea and discuss death with no agenda, objectives or themes. Find your local death cafe at deathcafe.com • NHS: As well as your GP, nhs.uk is a really useful tool. Search for ‘bereavement’ or ‘grief’ for resources
Coping with Mother’s Day without her Writing | Laura Graham Illustrating | Rosan Magar
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Mother’s Day should be filled with joy, but for those whose mums are no longer here, it can be a bitter reminder of what’s missing. In 2009, Laura Graham lost her mum to breast cancer. With time, she’s discovered some tools to help her take something positive from the day
ore than half a million deaths were registered in England and Wales in 2017, and with every death comes a ripple of people who are affected by the loss. It’s vital that we learn how to manage loss and grief, and bring this taboo subject out into the open, especially at difficult times of year for many, such as Mother’s Day. For those whose mothers are no longer here, the women whose children aren’t with us, and those childless not by choice, Mother’s Day can be a painful time – and even more so when it isn’t just one day, but months of advertising and references to the event. When you’re grieving, it can feel very lonely. For me, each year following my mum’s death became a new torture. I made a lot of mistakes over the years. I ignored the day completely, I drank far too much alcohol to block it out, I pretended mum was on holiday. All of these unhealthy coping strategies ended in disaster. Personally, I doubt it’ll ever be a day I look forward to, but I found that doing positive things made it so much easier, and I hope these strategies can help you as well.
1 Be gentle with yourself
Feeling upset is natural. You don’t have to pretend you’re OK if you’re not, and allowing yourself the time and space to feel that pain and sadness will help you to process it.
Look at it as an opportunity to take a self-care day, and look after your wellbeing. Do things that make you happy, like taking a bath, reading your favourite book, or getting out in nature. It may be that you don’t feel the same level of enjoyment as you normally would, but that’s understandable. Looking after yourself can only be a good thing, and definitely something your mum would approve of.
Putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboards, and writing down what’s on your mind can be cathartic 2 Write your feelings down
Grief can cloud our minds and overwhelm our thoughts. Putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboards, and writing down what’s on your mind can be cathartic. It allows you to understand what you’re experiencing. You don’t need to write in structured sentences – if you can only manage random words, that’s totally fine. Remember, you’re not writing for a specific outcome, you’re writing just to write. Seeing your thoughts in print, no matter how random, will allow you to move forward, even in a tiny way.
3 Random acts of kindness
Studies show that helping others actually boosts our own happiness, and on a day where happiness can be hard to find, why not give it a try? Kind gestures shouldn’t be reserved for the people we know, and giving to strangers can bring just as much joy. I went to the self-help section of my local bookshop, and put positive notes that I had hand-written in the books about grief. It cost me nothing to do, and I know that it will give someone a moment of happiness when they read it.
4 Celebrate and forgive her
If you feel able to, celebrating your mum, her life and her achievements with those who knew her can be a positive step – and this goes for anyone who may have died. Get together with family and friends, and share your favourite memories. Don’t be scared of looking at photos; they shouldn’t be items that torment you, instead, allow them to evoke a memory. In your celebration of her, remember the good and bad. Your relationship might not have been perfect, so recognise that. Just because she’s gone, doesn’t mean you can’t talk about things you wish could have been different – that’s as important as remembering the positives. Laura Graham is the founder of its-character-building.co.uk. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @itscharacterbuilding, and Twitter @itscharacter March 2019 • happiful • 55
Twist and drizzle A simple supper served in under 20 minutes Writing | Ellen Hoggard
s much as I love cooking, sometimes nothing beats a recipe that is quick and simple, offering both nutrition and comfort. When you get home from a long day at work, you might not want to spend hours in the kitchen. Often when we don’t have the energy or time, we reach for the local takeaway menus, or something quick yet not-so-nutritious... But this isn’t your only option; there are plenty of healthy, simple recipes available, and this one in particular will be on the table quicker than you can choose pizza toppings! With fewer than 10 ingredients, and a 20-minute cooking time, this salmon and broccoli spaghetti is quick and delicious. It’s well-balanced, fresh and light, yet full of flavour. Because this recipe is so simple, it’s easy to change up depending on your taste. If you like spice, add more chilli. Instead of salmon, you can try prawns or chicken, or swap the meat for another protein source. Whatever works for you.
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SALMON SPAGHETTI Serves 2 Ingredients 2 salmon fillets 160g broccoli florets 200g spaghetti 1 garlic clove 1 chilli pepper Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper If you don’t eat fish or want a simple, veg-only pasta dish, add 100g frozen peas and 100g chopped mushrooms. Delicious. Method • H eat the oven to 180C/160C fan or gas mark 4. • I n an ovenproof dish, lay a piece of baking parchment so the salmon won’t stick. Put the salmon skin side down, and pour a little oil over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. • C hop the chilli pepper and garlic, and put aside. In a large pan of
boiling water, cook the spaghetti for five minutes. Chop the broccoli and add to the pan for a further five minutes. • M eanwhile, heat some oil in a pan, and add the garlic and chilli. Sauté until soft. Drain the pasta and veg, and return to the pan, mixing with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve in bowls, and place the salmon on top. I actually like to flake the salmon and mix it all together, but it’s up to you!
OUR EXPERT SAYS…
Find a nutritionist near you at nutritionistresource.org.uk
This salmon spaghetti is perfectly balanced, and tasty too. Traditionally, Italian spaghetti is made from durum wheat semolina, but elsewhere it may be made with other kinds of flour, or you can make spaghetti from vegetables such as butternut squash or courgettes. For regular spaghetti lovers, please don’t worry about the carbohydrates! They are an essential macronutrient, are satiating, and also help to boost the ‘good mood’ hormone, serotonin, in the brain. Salmon contains omega 3 essential fatty acids that are beneficial for healthy vision, brain, joints, and reducing inflammation and diseases in the body. One salmon fillet contains approximately 21g protein! Broccoli is high in fibre and antioxidant phytonutrients, which are great for colon and liver health. Furthermore, it’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid and phosphorous, keeping the body’s cells healthy, including bones and teeth. Olive oil has wonderful health benefits and contains Omega 9 and no cholesterol. The fats in the oil aid the absorption of vitamins A, C, D, K and carotenoids from the vegetables in the body. Research shows it helps heart health, and the Mediterranean diet is flowing with olive oil – locals use it to stay young and energetic. So, a drizzle of olive oil on your meal will not only make your spaghetti more appetising, it could keep you youthful, too. Sonal is a nutritional therapist and director of Synergy Nutrition. She specialises in sports nutrition, hormonal imbalances and vegan diets. To find out more about Sonal, visit synergynutrition.co.uk
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Meals, minds and macronutrients
What happens when an England rugby player and a performance chef get together to create the ultimate guide to nutrition? We spoke to James Haskell and Omar Meziane to find out Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
hat does the plate of a man who has more than 78 senior England rugby union caps to his name look like? And if you could sit down with the performance chef who cooked the men’s England football team to their success in the 2018 World Cup, would you like to know how he did it? It’s no secret that in order to get the most out of exercise, we need to fuel and care for our bodies correctly. But with so much information out there, it can be hard to know what to trust. In a bid to wade through the noise and help people get the most out of what’s on their plates, rugby player James Haskell and performance chef Omar Meziane joined forces to create Cooking For Fitness: Eat Smart, Train Better, a guide that sorts through the misguided advice and fad diets to help us create the best plans for our nutrition and overall health. For both James and Omar, this book became an opportunity to set the record straight, and open up the world of sports nutrition to make it accessible to all. “I’d worked with James previously while I was cooking for the Wasps [rugby union team], and we’ve been friends for years,” Omar tells us. “I wanted to share my insight
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into performance cooking, which is something James has always been passionate about, and so we thought together our experiences were a great fit to create this book.” When it comes to feeding athletes, you have to get smart about nutrition, and that’s something that both James and Omar have learnt over the years in their respective professions. Like most things, it’s about balance. Getting the right proportion of macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fats is just one half of the multi-chaptered story. You have to bear in mind portion sizes, and the specific activity you will be taking part in that day.
The experience of preparing the meal can have a great impact on people’s happiness But just because you’re eating consciously, doesn’t mean you should be depriving yourself of tasty food. “I want to show how simple it is to cook meals which are in equal parts delicious and healthy, without having to cut anything out,” James tells us.
“You can put together a delicious and healthy meal with chicken and vegetables, a few spices and seasoning,” adds Omar. “And once you start eating healthily, I like to think the rest follows.” Of course, nutrition isn’t just for those about to compete at world class level. Whether you’re training for a half-marathon, turning up for a pilates class, or doing a few leisurely laps at the pool, we should all be thinking about the food we use to fuel our bodies. And it’s not just our physical health that benefits. “Exercise is so key for our mental and physical health,” James explains. “But to exercise to our full potential, we need to be eating correctly.” “Food itself is also key to our mental health,” says Omar, who points to the fact that 95% of our body’s serotonin – the feel-good hormone that helps regulate our sleep, appetite and mood – is produced in our gut. “And then there is the experience of preparing the meal itself, which can also have a great impact on people’s happiness.” In addition, a 2018 study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that ‘Mediterranean diets’ – those that are high in fruit, veg, grains, fish, nuts and olive oil – had the ability to decrease participants’ likelihood of developing depression. Continues >>>
Photography | Gino Tambini
This recipe can be found in ‘Cooking For Fitness: Eat Smart, Train Better’, along with many other simple, delicious ideas to take back control of your nutrition
TURKEY WITH BEETROOT & STILTON SALAD Serves: 2 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 12 minutes Ingredients 2 x 175g turkey escalopes 1 tbsp olive oil 250g cooked beetroot 2 tbsps walnut halves, roughly chopped 80g Stilton cheese 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 handful rocket leaves Method • Preheat your grill to high. • Place the turkey escalopes on a tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and grill for 5–6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. • Cut the beetroot into quarters and place in a bowl. Add the walnuts, crumble the Stilton over the salad, and drizzle over the vinegar. Give it a good toss to mix everything in. • Divide the rocket leaves between two plates, and top with the beetroot salad. Slice the turkey and serve on top of the salad.
That being said, there is a lot of conflicting information surrounding nutrition out there, something that James and Omar are both aware of. “Often, the recipes you come across online for healthy eating can do you more harm than good, and end up being needlessly complicated and expensive,” says James. “People can have quite skewed concepts of what you need to eat to get results and feel good.” Omar agrees. “There can be a lot of healthy eating conversations that discuss weird and expensive ingredients. But to me, that’s not what a wellbalanced diet is about. “Essentially, if you eat fresh, healthy, clean ingredients, you
feel great. If you eat fast food, or additive-filled, shop bought foods you feel rubbish.” When Omar and James came together, yes they wanted to create a resource for those who were looking to train and maintain their body, but they also wanted to support those with an interest in nutrition, but who didn’t have access to expensive ingredients. Good nutrition is at the core of our health, both physical and mental. It should, and can, be accessible for all. And with Cooking For Fitness: Eat Smart, Train Better, James and Omar are on a mission to bring that knowhow into your kitchen. ‘Cooking For Fitness: Eat Smart, Train Better’ is out now. RRP: £19.95
The many faces of motherhood So many mothers experience mental health problems to some degree after having a baby, yet it’s still a hush-hush subject. Why? We talk to five mums to hear their stories, find out what help they did or didn’t get, and ask how struggling mothers can find their way through it Writing | Miriam Foley
mily began to love her daughter when she was two years old. Until then, she had experienced anxiety, fatigue, stress, and been deeply unhappy. “I just wanted to hand her to someone else, so they could take care of her,” she recalls. And she’s not alone. In 2017, the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) estimated that half of new mums experience mental health or emotional problems during pregnancy, or within a year of giving birth – known as the perinatal period. The same report also found that, like Emily, half of sufferers don’t seek help. Continues >>>
Julie’s story “I didn’t realise I wasn’t OK until later, when I was OK. I was too busy putting one foot in front of the other,” Emily explains. Motherhood can be the most beautiful experience, but for every moment of beauty, there are times of tears, angst, self-doubt, and utter exhaustion. It can be a gruelling journey, mentally, physically, and emotionally; catapulted into unknown territory with the responsibility of a new life on our shoulders. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. BABY BLUES, PND – AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN Everyone has heard of the baby blues – the first week or two after birth when approximately 70% of women have labile emotions – and there is awareness of postnatal depression (PND). But Professor Susan Ayers, a health psychologist and cognitive behaviour therapist, notes in the journal Perspectives, that “many more women suffer from moderate symptoms, which can still be distressing, and have a negative impact on women and their families. Mental health and illness are therefore not categorical, but more like a continuum from positive mental health to severe illness”. A wide range of other conditions also exist, including stress and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as postnatal psychotic disorders. And of course, fathers’ and partners’ mental health can also be affected before, during, or after childbirth, too. Yet the stigma attached to asking for help, combined with a ‘get on with it’ attitude, no doubt features highly among the reasons not to act. One woman who was troubled by this exact stigma is Catherine. “I was in a constant low mood, almost a numbness – like life was going on around me, but I wasn’t a
part of it…” Catherine explains. “I remember sitting in our living room, and just staring out of the window while my husband cooked, sorted the children out, and cleaned up.” Rather than getting help, she hoped that if she waited long enough, the feelings would pass. Five months after the birth, her husband insisted she went to the doctor. Catherine subsequently began cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) once a week, but only over the phone, having turned down group sessions for fear of being seen. Catherine worried about being judged, but despite these worries says: “It was such a relief to offload everything that was tormenting me on a daily basis.” SERVICES AND AWARENESS: GETTING BETTER, BUT STILL ‘PATCHY’ Perinatal mental health awareness and services have made huge improvements in recent years, thanks to £365 million in government funding committed over five years in 2015, research, a cross-party parliamentary group called 1001 Critical Days, and the creation of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) by Dr Alain Gregoire. Social media and blogs also allow parents a platform to share their experiences – a #PNDhour event takes place on Twitter every Wednesday at 8pm.
Julie had severe PND eight years ago after having her second child, and came close to taking her own life. In the months after the birth, Julie “lived day to day, hour to hour, not knowing how to live”. She woke up one morning and couldn’t leave her bedroom, she couldn’t speak, or eat, or function. A trip to the doctor led to a referral for emergency counselling, which had a sixweek wait. Her parents took care of her baby, and set up a rota system with her husband. Julie remembers that she “hated life, every second of every day”. Three days before her son turned one, she found herself by a cliff contemplating ending her life. Thankfully, she rang her dad (she thinks), and drove home. The next day she was under specialist care at a mother and baby unit, in a psychiatric hospital that she credits with saving her life. When Julie was at her lowest, she kept asking herself what she would do if she got better. The answer? Live abroad. Today, she celebrates five years abroad, and earning enough to support her family has meant her husband was able to leave his job and follow his own dream of becoming a primary school teacher.
I was in a constant low mood, almost a numbness – like life was going on around me, but I wasn't a part of it… Julie’s baby son Charlie with his big sister Katie
Melissa and her family on their first trip to the park
It was such a relief to offload everything that was tormenting me on a daily basis But there’s plenty of room for improvement. “One of the problems is services for perinatal mental health are really patchy,” says psychologist Susan. A recent report found that 24% of new mums and pregnant women in the UK have no access to specialist perinatal mental health services – and the level of services vary from one postcode to the next. A lack of appropriate healthcare can lead to a missed diagnosis. Melissa sought help seven months after a traumatic birth, which included a category 1 Caesarean section. “I’d stopped going to baby groups, because parents would ask me about the birth, and I would just cry. I felt like a failure for not birthing properly. I missed my job, I was lonely, and I hated my life.” Her struggles were further compounded by undiagnosed reflux and breastfeeding issues. Yet, because she completed everyday tasks, her GP said that she was ‘functioning too highly for it to be depression’.
Now, she knows her feelings were not normal. Cases like Melissa’s demonstrate how women can be let down by professionals – seeking a second opinion is imperative, as is taking an advocate to an appointment. Contacting alternative services such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), is another option. Doctor referrals are not needed, and services are available across the country. THE POSITIVE POWER OF PEER SUPPORT Natalie had a difficult delivery, subsequent operation, blood transfusion, and third degree tears, with no skin-to-skin opportunity, which left her ‘feeling nothing’ after the birth of her baby eight years ago. Anxiety, nightmares, and night-time panic attacks ensued, and she feels she would have greatly benefited from connecting with other mums. That’s why she co-founded The SMILE Group, together with another mum, Ruth Eglin. Today, the group is supported by Comic Relief, boasts nearly 4,000 Twitter followers, and offers three peer-support groups a week in the Cheshire East area. One-to-one home visits, family sessions, and ‘attachment-promoting’ activities like reiki and yoga, as well as counsellor-led groups, are all available.
Natalie with her husband Matthew, and children, Ozzy and Violet
PND IN MEN The NCT estimates that more than one in three new fathers (38%) are concerned about their mental health. Worrying about their partners’ mental health appears to be a key reason, as almost 75% men cited this as a cause for concern. A strained relationship, the increased pressures of fatherhood, more financial responsibility, changes in lifestyle, combined with a lack of sleep and an increased workload at home, can also affect a new dad’s mental wellbeing, while a traumatic birth experience can trigger PTSD. Find information and support at dadsmatteruk.org – a website offering dads support and encouraging open discussion and disclosure of anxiety, depression and PTSD. Their goal? To build a supportive community, and get mums in need early-doors access to support and therapy, and sending a message that so many mums need to hear: ‘You won’t always feel this way.’ Other groups are available, including Mothers Uncovered – a Brighton-based support network – while Parents in Mind works nationally to support women experiencing emotional health difficulties in pregnancy, and within two years after birth. Mums Meet Up connects mothers across the UK. Motherhood is hard. Saying that doesn’t mean you’re not a brilliant mother, or that you don’t love your child more than you dreamed possible. It means you’re human. So, put your hand up if you’re not perfect, if you’re doing your best, if you’re struggling, if you need help. You are not alone. March 2019 • happiful • 63
The Orphanage of Gods Enter a fantasy world filled with strong but relatable women, and thought-provoking moral dilemmas Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
inding good fantasy fiction can be tricky. Each year, without fail, the papers herald another up-andcoming author as ‘the next J. K. Rowling’, or a new series as ‘this year’s Divergent’. However, truly thought-provoking fantasy for young adults is often harder to find. But London-based author Helena Coggan’s latest novel, The Orphanage of Gods may have uncovered the magic formula.
SO, WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The book begins 20 years after a bloody revolution all but wiped out the gods – exceptional individuals with seven special powers, silver blood, and a unique demise (power) of their own.
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In the aftermath, children who were abandoned or orphaned are sent to an orphanage, where the Guardsmen keep watch for any sign of godly powers, and make them disappear. Hero, the 17-year-old protagonist, has done the unthinkable. Alongside Joshua, her long-time friend, she has escaped, but at a terrible price; the capture of their sister. Together they must rescue Kestrel, and escape the murderous Guardsmen; but are the bonds forged between them enough to help them survive?
FAST-PACED AND ACTION-PACKED
Divided into three sections, each follows a different female protagonist. Firstly, we follow Hero and her
journey to rescue her sister. Through her journey, we encounter young Raven, our second narrator who has been raised outside of an orphanage, despite her godly blood and powers. Finally, we follow human Kestrel in her survival after her capture, who will give anything to keep her siblings (by choice, not blood) safe. There’s a lot packed into this standalone novel. Following multiple firstperson narratives, accompanied by an ever-growing cast of side characters, at times it can be tricky to keep track of everything. While Hero feels like she has a fully fleshed out backstory and motives, Raven’s narrative seems much shorter and simplified. Readers have less space to fully grasp Raven, beyond her age
It’s refreshing to see not every decision leads to a cookie-cutter happy ending and the expectations of those around her. By the time we get to Kestrel, we feel as though we already know her – perhaps a little too well – which takes away the sense of discovery felt in previous chapters. Each section, while gripping in its own right, feels like it needs more room to breathe – perhaps as a novel in its own right, to allow readers to become invested in the supporting cast, and connect with each young woman’s journey.
INSPIRING THOUGHT AND CONTEMPLATION
Throughout The Orphanage of Gods, readers are introduced to some pretty big themes. From toying with the ageold favourite ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, to the unbreakable (and breakable) bonds of sibling love, there’s one question woven throughout that will leave readers questioning characters’ motivations and actions: do the ends justify the means? We see Hero battling with her own self-perceived feelings of being a Great for… • Teens who love strong female leads • Fans of fantasy fiction • Readers who enjoy multiperspective narratives
coward, as she strives to overcome her instincts to protect those she loves. We hear characters using each other as their moral compass, at times going against what they know is the more logical, safe solution, regardless of the potential fallout. We see other characters, not true villains, yet too blemished to be called a hero in the traditional sense, as they make the tough choices for the safety of others, by any means necessary. In an era where we’re used to the hero not having to make the tough call, thanks to a last-minute save to fix the self-sacrificing play, it’s refreshing to see that not every decision can lead to a cookie-cutter happy ending. Despite the fantasy setting, author Helena Coggan gives us a clear, relatable snapshot of different points in childhood. The powerless feeling of being a teen on the cusp of adulthood, as the adults around you still have the final say over your life. The limbo of being a child of 10 – not quite a teen, more than a young kid, with expectations and responsibilities yet none of the trust to know yourself, or your mind, enough to make your own decisions.
SHOULD I READ IT?
Despite the breakneck pace and tightly packed cast, The Orphanage of Gods raises a lot of questions that readers of all ages can benefit from exploring. What is true courage? Having the strength to do what needs to be done, or standing up for your morals, even if it could have serious consequences for yourself and others? Featuring strong female leads, and firmly ditching the ‘love will conquer all’ trope, The Orphanage of Gods presents women as sidekicks-turnedheroes, damsels-turned-warriors, and
children-turned-leaders. Showing us the strength, the struggles, and the failings of humans, gods and halfgods, throughout her work Coggan seems to ask us: do we have the right to decide what is best for other people? Or should free will always reign, even if it can lead to selfdestruction, or the harming of others? The Orphanage of Gods By Helena Coggan (Hodder & Stoughton, £9.99 Kindle edition out 21 Feb 2019) IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE… The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, £7.99) There’s only one rule in the hunger games: kill or be killed. When Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place, she sees it as a death sentence. But for her, survival is second nature. Heartless By Marissa Meyer (Macmillan Children’s Books, £7.99) Long before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Discover the story behind Wonderland’s most feared ruler. Everless By Sara Holland (Orchard Books, £7.99) Time is currency. When Jules discovers her father is dying, she knows she must return to being a servant to the aristocratic Gerlings to earn more time for him, before it’s too late.
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“ I know why you like girls A letter to my younger self
and don’t wear your seatbelt Have you ever looked back on your life, and wished you could speak words of comfort and wisdom to your younger self for those times when life really tests you? April Kelley has done just that. In her wonderfully candid letter, she revisits a period in her life full of change – understanding that she is bisexual, and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder
Dear April, You’ve just turned 18. I’d tell you what your poison is, but you already know. Gin and tonic, or rosé. You’ll even grow to love beer (but only from a bottle). I know you love Jäger bombs – that will never change. The older you get, the more you’ll treat them as a short drink rather than a shot – yep, older you is pretty gross. I also know you’re scared, and you don’t know why. But you have two continuous thoughts swimming around your head: “What the hell is that feeling in the pit of my stomach? Nobody warned me about this.” And: “Why can’t I choose whether I want to be with a girl or boy?”
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Man, I wish I had some definitive answers for you, but I’m hoping 10 years from now, 38-year-old April will have answers for both of us. April, I’m not going to lie, you have a tough year ahead of you – but nowhere near as tough as many others, so please keep your perspective. You’re going to follow your heart with a girl, and it will backfire in a way that you’ll only recognise from films. I sit here still cringing, but I won’t stop you – it’ll shape the person that you are today. Do you remember how mum and dad brought you up to believe that “you fall in love with a person, not a gender”? Never forget that. I know you won’t, but you’ll feel pressurised to at times. Do you remember how they tried to make you feel better
by saying: “Everyone has bad days?” I know what you’re thinking, God help anyone whose ‘bad day’ consists of the thoughts in our head. Well, April, over the next five years, you’re going to lay awake many a night, before realising: • Bisexuality is actually a thing, rather than a segway to lesbianism. You’ll be wide-eyed at 3am thinking: “Am I straight or gay?”… You’re bisexual, April. • You’re not having a bad day. Something else is going on. You don’t know this yet, you have no grasp of any of this… yet. I don’t think you’re even aware of bisexuality, but the next 10 years will change that. You’ll never feel the need to ‘come out’, primarily due to being unintentionally ‘outed’, but also because you were
fortunate enough to be raised with an open mind. Those bad days though, they’re harder to define, and it’ll take until March 2018 for you to find the answer and – I’m sorry for this – you are bipolar, April. When you’re finally diagnosed, everything will make sense, and the weight will be lifted. You’ll leave the psychiatrist, and call mum on the way home. As a heads up, your mum is going to have a broken heart over this, and you’ll hear her crying down the phone, apologising for why she couldn’t fix it. I don’t need to tell you it’s not her fault. Mum and dad are going to work hard to understand what’s going on in your head. Dad will stay up with you all night when you’re having an
Photography | Jonathan Benbaruk
...it’s like drinking a slushy too fast and getting brain freeze – you just have to hold tight and wait for it to pass
episode at 27, and at 4am he’ll ask: “Are you able to explain how it feels?” You’ll tell him it’s like drinking a slushy too fast and getting brain freeze – you just have to hold tight and wait for it to pass. You know the biggest shocker? Telling people you’re bipolar will be more difficult than telling them you’re bisexual. You’ll try to make a joke of it – the crowd pleaser is usually: “It’s a strong brand at least, you know, ‘bi/bi’.” It’s crippling, exhausting and can be embarrassing, but it’s
not a failure in your strength, nor a failure as a human. It’ll take you years to accept, but awareness and education for sufferers and those who support them will get better. In your second year at drama school, you’ll set up a business as a consequence of a module requiring you to showcase your ‘plan B’ for when you’re not acting. You’ll present ‘Creating a Production Company’, and your tutor will pull you aside and ask: “Could you come back next week with something a little more realistic?”
Two weeks later, you’ll register the company and name it in honour of your parents, Mini Productions! That company will support you while you carve out a career as an actor. Oh, FYI, I know why you’re not wearing your seatbelt, and I know others haven’t noticed. Sara will notice though. You haven’t met her yet, but she’s going to be the best thing that ever happened to you. She’s your future business partner, best friend, the Louise to your Thelma.
She’ll be the only person to call you out on not wearing a seatbelt, because she’ll work out that, in your mind, by not wearing one, an accident could be your easy way out. This plan will falter, as you both start earning enough to get cars which beep when you don’t buckle up. Some of your dreams will have come true, while some are just beginning. You’re going to get a perm – don’t roll your eyes at me, it’s your choice and you’ll love it! Continues >>>
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Before then, you’ll cut your hair off ‘pixie’ style, because your meds will make it fall out – embrace it. I’m tempted to do it again!
Bipolar is a superpower – just Google all the people who cope with it daily. You’re in good company You’re going to get wasted, then get your nipple pierced in Hollywood. You’re going to have your heart broken by people who were barely in your life – people you clicked with, but are only in your life for a reason or season. Others will be there for a lifetime. I know you, you’re all or nothing, you feel every emotion so annoyingly deep – nothing has changed. It’s one of your greatest superpowers. Bipolar is a superpower – just Google all the people who cope with it daily. You’re in good company. You won’t believe this either, but you know how all you want to do is work and move to Los Angeles? Your life is slowly going to shimmy that way. So much so, (and I hope you’re sitting down for this) you’re going to write a short film about your experience as a bisexual, and then shoot it in LA! It’s going to be your greatest achievement, and the best time of your life.
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Bisexuals need more representation – I’m not saying you’re going to change this, but you’ll be a part of it. So, as much as I’m sure you wish you could tell 15-yearold April in the hospital bed that swallowing a load of tablets is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, I’m here to tell you that you’re a fighter, a silent
fighter fueled by your family, relationships, production company, and your passion to work. “How many times have people used a pen or paintbrush, because they couldn’t pull the trigger?” – Virginia Woolf. That will become your mantra. Keep telling mum and dad you love them, and never
let Sara go, as well as all the other incredible people in your life – they are your support network, they’ll continue to let you dream big with your outrageous ambitions. I’m proud of you. Honestly.
April x P.S. Anything is possible (that’ll make sense in a couple of years).
Photography | Ryan Daniell
April starring as Belle in her feature film ‘Treacle’
M A R C H
Step into spring with our 10 recommendations for March. Get going with the chocolate 5K, discover the joy of #hinching, and learn how to start saying ‘yes’ to ‘no’
PAGE-TURNERS The Power of No: Take Back Control and Find Time for You by Abbie Headon Reconnect with your needs and break the taboo of saying ‘no’ with this empowering read. The Power of No seeks to teach you to value your own time, and equips you with the confidence to set your own rules and boundaries.
THE CONVERSATION Self-Injury Awareness Day Established in 2002, Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD) is an international event raising awareness of, and building empathy towards, self-harm. Head to lifesigns.org.uk for fact sheets, support, and stories about people’s experiences. Use the hashtag #SIAD to join the conversation. (1 March)
Images | GrownUpLand: bbc.co.uk/programmes, Dumbo: © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. Mrs Hinch: Instragram @mrshinchhome
(Ilex Press, £9.99)
TECH TIP-OFFS LEND US YOUR EARS
Snap Me Up
GrownUpLand Navigating adulthood isn’t always easy. In this weekly podcast series, hosts Mae Martin, Bisha K Ali and Ned Sedgwick – along with special guests – talk candidly about the lessons they’ve lived and learned. From fashion and friendship, to confidence and spirituality, nothing is off the cards.
Struggling to get up in the morning? This alarm can only be turned off by taking a selfie, forcing you to get to a bright place, and snap that earlymorning shot. You can share your selfie with the world, or the photos make for a humorous personal collection of sleepy headshots. (Available from Google Play Store)
PLUGGED-IN Mrs Hinch
(Available from BBC Sounds)
Tidy house, tidy mind – no one knows that better than Sophie Hinchliffe, aka Mrs Hinch. Follow Sophie as she spruces up her home, sharing relatable, vulnerable, anecdotes as she goes, and join her supportive Hinching community.
SQUARE EYES Dumbo
Get the tissues ready for Tim Burton’s remastering of the childhood classic Dumbo. Follow our unlikely hero as he is brought back to life with stunning CGI, and a star-studded cast including Eva Green, Danny DeVito, and Colin Farrell.
(Follow @mrshinchhome on Instagram)
(In cinemas 29 March)
PUT ON A SHOW The Marmalade Festival Celebrate this sweet-treat at the world’s original Marmalade Festival. Head to the historic town of Penrith, Cumbria, as the town comes together for the annual celebration. Take a shuttle bus to Dalemain Mansion to see which homemade marmalade maker will take the crown at the awards, listen to live music, and taste marmalades that would make Paddington proud.
GET GOING The Chocolate 5K, Solihull If you’re not the biggest running fan, the Chocolate 5K could be the race that changes things. All in aid of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, the trail through the Elmdon Park Nature Reserve boasts chocolate stations along the route, finishing with a commemorative gooey post-run chocolate pot. (23 March, sign up and find out more: birminghamhospice.org.uk)
(16 March, find out more at dalemain.com/marmalade-festival)
OUT AND ABOUT Pancake Day in London Turn the heat up on Pancake Day this year by heading out in London, where some of the city’s best restaurants will be flipping things up to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. Head to timeout.com for updates on participating restaurants. (5 March)
TREAT YOURSELF SevenSeventeen Candles
With their tagline ‘mood-boosting candles for the burnt out’, these jars of joy are the perfect ingredient for a day of relaxation. And what makes them even better is that £1 from the sale of every candle is donated to the PANDAS Foundation – the charity supporting parents with perinatal mental illnesses. So far, they’ve raised more than £10,000! (Visit seven-seventeen.co.uk for more)
DATING WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS
First dates can fill you with excitement; the prospect of that connection where you can’t wait to see each other again. But it can also be nerve-racking, and for those of us with mental illness, there are even more challenges... Writing | Eleanor Segall Illustrating | Rosan Magar
utting yourself out there, being vulnerable and open to the possibility of love, can be quite a scary thing – we all know the risk of heartbreak, but also the possibility to learn, grow, and make a truly special connection. Having a mental illness can mean the thought of dating is even more daunting – will they understand? What if you’re not ready? Even though one in four of us will be living with mental illness at any one time, feeling anxious about sharing your mental health experiences with a potential love interest is completely natural. I’ve experienced this myself; I have bipolar 1 disorder and I was hospitalised in 2014 with mania and psychosis. When I had recovered, I still had an anxiety disorder and panic attacks to contend with, alongside a fear of rejection from potential partners if they knew how ill I’d been. I feared a lack of understanding about my symptoms. I began dating again in 2015, and eventually met my now-fiancé, who wasn’t fazed by the fact I have a chronic mental illness. We spoke about my symptoms extensively over time, and he is now a brilliant support to me. Having a mental illness shouldn’t stop you from living and experiencing the things your heart desires. Here, I want to share some of my tips for
dating with a mental illness, so that you too can enter the dating scene, when you’re ready:
1 Don’t rush for romance
Mental illness can often leave you feeling lonely, and sometimes this leads you to feel that you need to find a partner quickly. However, it’s important that you are at the right place in your recovery before you enter a new relationship. It’s easy to get swept up in romance, and spend all your energy on that, but you need to have the time and space to dedicate to yourself, allowing yourself to heal and feel better before arranging dates.
2 Be honest, but go at your own pace
If the dates have gone well and you can see the relationship developing, it’s important to be honest about your mental health – when you do this just depends on when you feel ready to. From my own experience, I chose to wait before telling my date about my mental illness, because I wanted to get to know each other before disclosing intimate details. But others may view this differently, and prefer to open up sooner than later, rather than waste time on someone who isn’t understanding. Just think about what’s right for you. If they have an adverse reaction, it says more about them than you.
3 It’s OK to be anxious
Dating anxiety is a completely understandable part of life. Even people who don’t have an anxiety disorder feel nervous before dates! When I started dating, I regularly had to cancel due to social anxiety, and was met with a variety of reactions – some were understanding, and some were not – I didn’t see the ones who weren’t again. While stigma still exists, in a study from 2013 by charities Mind and Relate, out of 1,000 people with mental health issues surveyed, 63% of
Remember that your mental illness does not define you – you have many amazing attributes, so let them shine those who told their partners revealed their other half wasn’t fazed. They also found that 77% actively discuss their mental health with their partner, and only 5% said partners ended the relationship when they found out.
4 Pre-date relaxation routines Practising some deep breathing exercises can help those pre-date nerves – breathe in through your nose for the count of five, and out through your mouth for five. Repeat this for a few minutes. You could also try meditating, or if that’s not your style, distracting yourself might help – put on your favourite show, read, or listen to music. If the nerves are still there, speak to someone you trust – a friend or family member – who can talk you through it, and give you a positive boost before you leave. Putting on your favourite outfit will help you to feel more confident as well.
5 Have fun
While the initial thought of dating might be nerve-racking, remember why you’re there: to meet someone special and hopefully find a romantic connection. It’s important to enjoy yourself with your date, try to forget about your worries, and be in the moment. Remember that your mental illness does not define you as a person – you have many amazing attributes, so let them shine. And if the date doesn’t go well, it’s not the end of the world. Frame it as a positive – it means your first date with that someone truly special is something you can still look forward to. It could be just around the corner. Eleanor Segall is a freelance journalist and mental health blogger with bipolar 1 disorder. Find out more at beurownlight.com
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Seeing my world differently Saima always saw herself as a happy-go-lucky character, but it took the insight of a friend to help her recognise her own depression. Through meditation and CBT, Saima found a new lease of life, and wants to encourage us all to follow our own paths
Writing | Saima Majid
lmost one year ago, I lost one of my closest friends to suicide. Having experienced depression and anxiety myself, I had been no stranger to mental illness, but nothing had prepared me for the raw and dark nature of suicide. Being from a Pakistani Muslim background, there is a huge emphasis on family values, yet we are not encouraged to express our emotions. This is what our forefathers were accustomed to, and so it has been a pattern that has followed generations. My own mental health began to suffer during my time in London. I had arrived more than a decade before, straight out of university, excited, ambitious, adventurous, driven, fresh, naive and curious. I was about to embark on a new career as a textile designer in the fashion industry. My early years in the capital had been a non-stop adventure. As a creative, and
someone who felt like a misfit in my home city of Derby, I finally felt like I could relate to the world around me â€“ which was artistic, dynamic, forward-thinking, diverse, rich, and open-minded. However as the years went by there was also adversity. During this time, I experienced redundancy, bullying in the workplace, and toxic relationships. Eventually these things took their toll, and began to wear me down. The good times had been enriching, but the bad times were painful, lonely and isolating. As a young Pakistani female, despite having the most forwardthinking of parents regarding education and career, I had not been taught about boundaries in relationships, or how to protect myself against toxicity and emotional vampires. An important part of the culture taught me to respect everyone, regardless of their behaviour. Continues >>>
Saima now to uses her flair for design to campaign for MH awareness
The good times had been enriching, but the bad times were painful, lonely and isolating Life as a Pakistani is also very much dictated by ‘what the community thinks’, which poses many problems. How can you be yourself and live true to your essence when you are unable to just ‘be’? I had always been a trailblazer with regards to my career and following my dreams, but relationships had been more challenging. Having been a people-pleaser for as long as I can remember, boundaries were an unfamiliar concept, 74 • happiful • March 2019
and I found that my energy would become entangled with everyone else’s, and vice versa. I internalised my emotions, set myself high standards, and was hard on myself. Eventually, this, combined with constantly trying to figure out human behaviour and giving myself to everyone, was bleeding me dry, and life came to a halt. Feelings of numbness took over. I could sleep for hours on end. I became disengaged
with the world around me. I lost my passion for life. I would spend a couple of hours with friends, and then feel emotionally and mentally exhausted, and just wanted to sleep. I lost my identity, and became half a person. At the time, I didn’t even recognise that I had depression. In fact, I would be the last person ‘I’ would have expected to have it. Not me, the happy-go-lucky, forever optimistic, always telling everyone else that life will be OK sort of person. It was when I began talking to a friend about life in general that she recognised that my self-worth and esteem had completely dissipated. She suggested that I start meditating and doing the things I loved again, like dancing. Things that would empower me, give me clarity and balance. In the early days, meditation evoked a lot of emotion, and there were a lot of tears. Looking back, it was no doubt helpful, but I really needed to explore and deal with the feelings that I had managed to bury during my years of ‘being strong’.
Another friend suggested cognitive behavioural therapy. This was the game changer, and combined with journalling every day, and meditating, my road to recovery truly began. Slowly but surely, I began to heal. I started to see my place and role in the world very differently. I was listening to talks by Oprah, Maya Angelou and Les Brown. I read books by Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Esther and Jerry Hicks, and Eckhart Tolle. They spoke about spiritual enlightenment, living mindfully and in the moment. They suggested looking inwards rather than outwards, and exploring and fulfilling your true purpose. These were concepts unfamiliar to me, but I felt empowered, excited and liberated. I realised that I had not been using my gifts and my being in the ways that I should have. Beauty and creativity have always been important to me. From fragrance, architecture, art, clothing, dance and movement, I see the value in the things that stimulate all of the senses. I enjoy people, and building and nurturing positive relationships.
Saima and her good friends Razia, Sara and Maria
For more information, please visit saimamajid.uk, and follow Saima on Instagram @saimamajidpt I have always had a lot to give, and now felt like I could channel this through empowering others. I moved back to the city I had left 14 years earlier, however, this time with new-found knowledge, wisdom, experience and fearlessness. I qualified as a personal trainer and set up my textiles business. I was functioning from a very different place. I knew who I was, I understood what my core values were and the people I wanted to surround myself with. Everything was going well, until life took another turn. My best friend, out of the blue, took her own life. This friendship had spanned well over a decade, and I had no idea that she had been suffering so deeply. I felt that
if I did not do something positive from this tragedy, then her death would have been in vain. And so I began to campaign for awareness about mental health. My first campaign for World Mental Health Day 2017, showing people of different ages, ethnicities and genders wearing slogan T-shirts that normalised our needs and traits as human beings, was received incredibly well. I was featured in the Derby Telegraph and asked to speak on BBC Radio Derby about the importance of mental health in the Asian community. Several people contacted me about their own experiences with mental health. These were individuals I had known for years, yet had no idea what they had been going
through. By being transparent about my own life, I was subconsciously giving others the permission to be open about theirs. Losing my friend taught me that life is a gift, and I was so lucky to have come out the other side. I also took this as a sign that I have a responsibility to reach those who are suffering.
Since last year, I have been raising awareness about mental health through what I do best – design. I donate a part of the proceeds from my clothing sales to Mind. It is my dream to encourage as many people as possible to live their best life by empowering them to follow their own, and not society’s, expectations.
Our Expert Says Saima’s narrative explores the theme of differentiating from the expectations others place on us, and discovering who we are as individuals. Finding a way to respect and incorporate those aspects of our history that resonate, and the courage to step outside those that limit us, is an important aspect of maturing. Saima’s support network enabled her to find methods to provide growth. The key is finding what fits for us as unique individuals, and trusting the wisdom within. Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
March 2019 • happiful • 75
The bovine benefits of being with cows When push comes to shove, aren’t we all looking for a bit of peace and quiet? An escape from the hustle, bustle, and pressure of the world around us – and the one within us, too?
Following the death of his brother, Dave Mountjoy found this ‘quiet’ in the company of cows. Soon after, he opened his retreat, Being with Cows, where visitors are invited to take part in mindful activities on the farm, in the company of the cattle... Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
or city-dwellers and weekend-walkers alike, cows might be no more than another set piece in the British countryside backdrop. But for Dave Mountjoy, they’re a key player in his quest for ‘quiet’. Since leaving the UK six years ago, Dave has set up a new life with his wife and two young sons in an off-thegrid house tucked away in the French Pyrenees. Here, the family share their home with 20 cows, and the visitors who travel from near and far to spend time with the herd at Dave’s unique retreat, Being with Cows. Research shows there’s something special about cows – one study by the University of British Columbia revealed that cows have personality types, and can be sorted as a ‘pessimist’ or ‘optimist’. Another study from Northampton University found that they form incredibly strong bonds, and even have best friends. But for Dave, the inspiration behind the retreat was personal.
‘IT’S BEST TO START AT THE BEGINNING, I SUPPOSE’
Dave grew up on his mum’s farm in rural west Worcestershire. “Of course, it gave me a grounding in feeling comfortable with animals,” Dave explains. “But it’s nothing like what’s going on now.” After leaving school, Dave spent years travelling around the world, before returning to the UK where he qualified and worked as a primary school teacher. But his heart was in the French Pyrenees, a landscape he had fallen in love with on long visits during the school summer holidays. In 2013, Dave took the plunge and bought a farm in Mirepoix, in southwest France. It was there that he began building his herd. “I know it sounds corny but, in that moment, literally everything had fallen into place,” he says.
A MOMENT OF QUIET
It was four years later when things took a devastating turn; Dave’s brother completed suicide.
He felt an indescribable connection to the herd – touched by their quiet, almost meditative presence “It was a raw event,” Dave tells us. “Although it wasn’t unexpected, there had been little tastes of it before.” After the funeral, Dave recalls returning grief-stricken to the farm. It was then that something astonishing happened. When Dave walked into the fields, the cows – usually independent and detached – ran down the slopes towards him. Dave believes that the cows were able to sense the immense pain he was going through. He felt an indescribable connection to the herd as – touched by their quiet, almost meditative presence – the emotion that he had been carrying entirely disappeared. Continues >>>
Galloway cows are famed for their thick, glossy coats, robust stature, and sweet, teddy-bear faces
BBC, ‘Secret Life of Farm Animals’, S1. E2
Guests have the opportunity to take part in outdoor yoga sessions in the company of the farm’s cows Casta cows are a local endangered breed
Dave and his son with Valentine, a Galloway cow
BBC, ‘Secret Life of Farm Animals’, S1. E2
Of course, the grief returned soon after. “But when I went through that initial pain, the cows helped me to ground it, and just acknowledge and accept it – which is often the hardest thing,” Dave says. This experience was so powerful that, soon after, Dave knew he had to share it with others. And so Being with Cows – a unique retreat where visitors take part in mindful activities in the presence of Dave’s herd of Casta and Galloway cows – was founded.
BEING WITH THE COWS
The retreats run throughout the year, and offer visitors the opportunity to take part in group meditation and outdoor yoga sessions, as well as walks and nature-spotting around the farm and local landscape. As the name suggests, the cows play a vital role in the experience. For Dave and the visitors, they act as a mirror – reflecting back emotions that we may have brewing below the surface, but that we might not always be aware of. A typical day at the Being with Cows Retreats: • Breakfast •M orning session: silent meditation walks in the local landscape Images | Secret Life of Farm Animals: BBC
•L unch / free time •A fternoon session: sitting in quietness with the cows •E vening meal •W ildlife watching / free time While Dave strives to “get away from the idea of a teacher” – instead preferring that visitors in search of mindfulness, or ‘quiet’, find their own way – there are still lessons to be learned from the cows.
“I just completely feel that these animals are existing in the meditational state that most humans who get involved in these kinds of things crave,” says Dave. “They’re just existing. “On one of the retreats, I spent the whole five days almost without thinking. And I know it sounds a bit weird, but you just go into this deep space where you don’t need to think about anything. It’s just like the deepest relaxation.”
I feel that these animals are existing in the meditational state that most humans who get involved in these kinds of things crave THE CASTAS AND THE GALLOWAYS
This is an effect that Dave first noticed in his Casta cows – a local endangered breed that, despite their intimidating horns and stubborn nature, have a sensitivity that Dave believes “will crush straight through any pretence that you have of yourself ”. “Whatever mood I was in, almost like clockwork, they bounced it back to me,” he explains. “Especially if I carried a bit of anger or had any resentment. They never attacked me, but they would back away or shake their heads at me.” At the other end of the scale, Dave’s second breed – the Galloways – embody an open, sturdy serenity; a state that inspires visitors, rather than confronts them. Famed for
their thick, glossy coats, robust stature, and sweet, teddy-bear faces, he explains that guests often find themselves physically drawn to the Galloways, who he explains as being “earthy and welcoming” in nature. “The Galloways are quite round and soft, and really grounded in the earth. It’s almost like anything you could throw at them, they could take it in their stride.” With their sensitive natures and stoic dispositions, these two breeds of cows – distinct both in their appearance and temperament – are the cornerstones on which Dave’s retreat is built. “It’s a bit of a cold way to say it, but the cows are beautiful tools,” he explains. “You can feel it, just being in their company, whether you’re into cows or not.”
‘QUIET, THAT’S REALLY WHAT WE’RE INVOLVED IN HERE.’
“So, that was where the idea for the retreat came,” Dave finishes. “Because I was working on myself for so long, I realised that these cows could really teach people things, and show them the way.” For Dave, the retreat is more valuable than a quirky holiday destination, and more complex than a sort of serene Eden. It’s a way of life; it’s a living, breathing journey. And in our busy, noisy modern lives, a quest for quiet seems as honourable and necessary as any other. So next time you’re passing a field of cattle, seize the moment to take them in. Because these unsuspecting creatures may just hold the key to unlocking a whole new perspective.
To find out more about Being with Cows Retreats, head to beingwithcows.com March 2019 • happiful • 79
Take a day away Will you join the Happiful and Life Coach Directory pledge?
ur phones have the ability to help us connect in so many ways – with our friends and family, and to news, views, social events and work. Our devices open up our world, and give us access to information beyond our own imagination. But phones can also limit our gaze from the world around us. Have a look around you next time you’re on public transport, in a restaurant, or out and about, and see how many people are looking down at their phone rather than at what is happening in that moment. Happiful and Life Coach Directory are on a mission to help more people connect in real life, and to live in the moment through our #adayaway challenge.
TAKE PART • Think about what worries or stops you from taking a phone break. Write all of this down and think about ways you can pre-empt any issues. Perhaps you could do this on a weekend, and let loved ones know in advance that you are going offline for the day? •C hoose the day to commit to going phone free. You might want to do this with a friend, so you can benefit from a day of connection together, without the distraction of a phone. • Give it a go. Notice how you feel as the day goes along. Maybe jot this down (using pen and paper) if you want to. Enjoy your day away.
#adayaway brought to you by lifecoach-directory.org.uk
• Share your experiences of #adayaway when you are next back online. Nominate someone else to join the challenge by tagging them and Happiful in your post. • Keep it going and commit to your next #adayaway the following week.
nd ork a w r o me f use u o wy and I kno ection ing, k n n i n h co en t e be tion v ’ I t r Bu flec d fo n re ff, an o upo y da ke a ing I’d li o. s be y a o t u. s alw you re u d for yo u s t o oo dn’t I’m n her is g houl s t e e tog out m ‘in with trife g live n i o t Be e you s y a da caus you e v i d let will g e an l i But fe’. h aw li real n for w o ’ve me d , you Pop nooze. o g ay a me s ayaw lose. d a # o Give othing t n t go
#adayaway challenge is a joint initiative from Happiful Magazine and Life Coach Directory. Make time to talk to others in person, to care for yourself, and look up. One day a week could make a huge difference. Let us know if you give it a try, and share your experience (when you switch back on) to encourage others to do the same.
t h g u o h t r o f d Foo
We know the world of nutrition can be a complicated one, and a real commitment to lifestyle changes is often required. But sometimes a small swap can make a big difference. We’ve put together five simple food swaps you can implement with ease, to help you feel better all round Writing | Kat Nicholls
1. Improve your sleep
3. Reduce stress
by swapping ice cream for popcorn Reaching for a bowl of ice cream while cosying up in front of Netflix sounds like the dream combo, right? Well it turns out, it may be more of a nightmare where sleep is concerned. Foods high in fat before bed can lead to indigestion, or even frequent trips to the bathroom. Popcorn, however, is made up of complex carbs, stimulating the release of serotonin – the feel-good chemical that helps you feel relaxed. It’s also low in fat, so shouldn’t have a negative impact on your digestive system. Perhaps making this your go-to movie-night snack will help for some sweet dreams after the silver screen.
by replacing salad croutons for nuts and seeds If you’re feeling stressed, the first thing we advise is to figure out what is causing this, to try to resolve things – you may need to take a break from a stressful situation, ask for help, look at ways to relieve your stress, or discover new coping mechanisms. To help aid your efforts, however, it’s worth taking a look at your diet, to see if there are any stress-reducing foods you could incorporate to see if they can make a difference. Nuts and seeds are full of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, which help to reduce blood-pressure and stress. Try switching your salad croutons for a sprinkling of nuts and seeds for a simple way to get your fix.
2. Find your focus by subbing peanut butter for almond butter This is a hard one for us, because we love peanut butter. But if you’re trying to take in new information, switching to almond butter may be the way to go. The reason? Vitamin E. This underrated nutrient protects the brain, and helps with cognitive functioning. If nut butters aren’t your thing, other great sources of vitamin E are seeds, leafy green veg, and avocados. 82 • happiful • March 2019
4. Aid your gut health by swapping regular coleslaw for sauerkraut coleslaw More and more research is coming out to show the link between our mood and gut health. Our digestive system has even been dubbed the ‘second brain’ because of the influence it has. To keep it happy, it’s important for us to have the right balance of bacteria in the gut.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut can help with this. A creative way to include this in your diet is to use sauerkraut in coleslaw recipes. You’ll get the same delicious tang, and your gut will thank you for it!
5. Improve energy by changing up iceberg lettuce for dark, leafy greens Feeling lethargic? Giving your diet a once over could help. A simple tip is to swap out iceberg lettuce in a salad for dark, leafy greens, which are rich in iron. Low iron levels have been linked to low energy, so upping your consumption is a quick way to encourage alertness. All dark, leafy greens are great, but kale in particular contains an amino acid called L-tyrosine which may also help to lift your mood.
To find out more, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk
Ten to Zen
Meet Owen O’Kane, the former NHS palliative nurse-turned-psychologist who can calm your mind in 10 minutes flat. More haste less speed? That’s so 2018… Writing | Gemma Calvert
Photography | Nicky Johnston
n the southern French village of Lourdes, at the famous Grotto of Massabielle, where every year millions of people visit to bathe in the miraculous healing waters, Owen O’Kane waited for his turn to be immersed. For two years before this, he had lived in a Catholic monastery, a peaceful world away from his childhood in the heart of Belfast during the Troubles – the violent political conflict that tore Northern Ireland apart for 30 years. Owen had long endured battles of his own. As a youngster, he was victimised because of his passion for drama and the piano, and labelled ‘gay’ by school bullies who unwittingly guessed his sexual identity long before he realised it himself. For years, living in a country where gay marriage remains illegal, Owen suppressed his truth – an inner prison that led him to Lourdes, where he planned to be ‘cured’ of homosexuality. “I was naive. I thought that if I got put into the water, I’d come out straight and live happily ever after,” recalls Owen. “What I didn’t bank on was being dipped into the water by two
good-looking shirtless French guys. Ironically, that moment was the beginning of my healing, because I made peace with my sexuality. I realised there was nothing to be cured, except self-acceptance.” Shortly after, at the age of 23, Owen came out, and became inspired to help others find peace. Firstly, as a palliative nurse for the NHS, he learned valuable lessons about what makes a good, fulfilling life. Since qualifying as a psychotherapist a decade ago, he has become a favourite of companies like Virgin Atlantic and the BBC, hosting stress management workshops, while also helping private patients through emotional struggles. The latter recently opened Owen’s eyes to the biggest obstacle facing most people seeking mental and emotional wellbeing – a lack of time. “One lady was struggling with anxiety, so I taught her mindfulness meditation techniques, but she said: ‘This is bulls**t, I can’t do it. I’ve got three kids and a job. I haven’t got 30 minutes a day to meditate.’ Suddenly it struck me that purist meditation isn’t for everyone. People don’t have 30 minutes, and they can’t always afford therapy,” he says.
Owen’s solution is Ten to Zen, a time-efficient daily mind workout, designed to de-stress and achieve calm in just 10 minutes, using a combination of four therapeutic models – mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Continues >>>
Owen is on a mission to help people find peace March 2019 • happiful • 83
That moment was the beginning of my healing, because I made peace with my sexuality. I realised there was nothing to be cured, except self-acceptance
“Evidence shows that when you spend just 10 minutes looking after the brain and train it to function in a different way, after eight weeks part of the brain activated by stress, called the amygdala, shrinks so it’s not as activated,” explains Owen, now also an NHS clinical lead. “People feel powerless. They don’t believe they can do anything about their mental health. Absolutely not. You can train your mind like you can every other part of the body.” Fuss-free, and advice based on experience, here Owen shares his top 10 tips to emotional harmony...
1 PUT ON THE BRAKES We’re hard-wired to worry, because it’s a protective mechanism. You’re going to feel jittery, agitated, tense and communicate perhaps in ways that are unhelpful. Regulate that threat system by stopping. This creates space, allowing you to begin switching off your threat system. Most of us ask how others are doing, but don’t ask inwardly: ‘Where am I at today?’ Find a quiet space to do this. 2 NEGATIVE FEELINGS ARE OK In psychology, we talk about ‘reinforced patterns’. The more you push something down or try to hold it back, the stronger it becomes. Most people try to beat down what they term ‘negative emotions’, because they don’t feel good, but feeling frustrated, low or angry is part of the trajectory of life. Get curious about these feelings. Allow yourself to be human. 3 MAKE SENSE OF YOUR STORY If you had a highly critical parent who said you weren’t good enough, in adult life your brain will respond in the way it’s been trained to. For example, if your manager’s criticising you this may evoke an inappropriate response. Understand that you’re not the content of your mind. We all carry a lot of guilt, shame and blame around. Let it go by getting to know your unhelpful patterns, and then start to work on restructuring patterns that represent the better version of you. 4 ACCEPTANCE Growing up, I repressed who I was and hid rather than standing up to the bullies. Too many of us apologise for who we are, to fit in. When you’re truthful about yourself in your own life, and learn to be comfortable in your own shoes, you stop trying to seek validation, and step out on the road to freedom.
5 GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD In our everyday lives, there’s a lot of noise and distraction. To switch off the threat system, close your eyes, visualise somewhere calm, and use a tapping technique by tapping on your thigh in a slow alternate motion, left to right, 20 times in total. When you next visualise that place, the brain recognises you’re stepping out of the chaotic activity, and responds by deactivating the threat system.
When you’re truthful about yourself in your own life, and learn to be comfortable in your own shoes, you stop trying to seek validation, and step out on the road to freedom 6 SELF-CARE IS KEY When your brain is tired and taking a bit longer to process things, take care of yourself. When you’re struggling, what’s the tone of voice in your head? If you’re calm, gentle and kind, like you would be to a friend who is struggling, it will ease psychological distress. 7 BABY BREATH It’s difficult to breathe properly when the mind is in overdrive. The older we get, the higher we breathe in our chests and necks. Try to breathe from the diaphragm, almost like a baby, and then release, counting in for four seconds, and out for four seconds until you feel calm.
8 LIFESTYLE MATTERS The maintenance you give to your life, like getting out for a walk and eating good food – in the world of CBT this is called behavioural activation – naturally helps with emotional regulation by stimulating helpful feel-good chemicals including dopamine and serotonin. 9 THINK ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE When I worked with the terminally ill, they’d talk about making the best of your time, living a full life, taking more risks, and not taking life so seriously. The dying are head-on with their mortality; they know there isn’t certainty, and deliver with wisdom the lessons to be found in living in the present moment. Stop and take stock of your values and principles, learn to let go of anger and resentment, and live lovingly and with kindness. 10 OPEN UP If you’re struggling, find the courage to tell someone – a GP, a therapist or a friend – because the minute you admit you’ve got a problem, you’re on the road to recovery, and can move towards resolution. Whenever anything is kept a secret or suppressed, it festers and becomes worse. If you’ve got a bad kidney or lungs, you seek help and make adjustments. It’s time to do the same for your mental wellbeing.
'Ten to Zen' by Owen O’Kane is out now (Bluebird, £10.99) March 2019 • happiful • 85
Photography | Bogdan Glisik
Bloom where you. are planted. – 1 CORINTHIANS 7:20-24
Happy in my skin
Learning to love herself wasn’t an easy path for Nicola. She spent years in a chasm of self-doubt, feeling that she was alone in that void. Today, she’s discovered the power of embracing yourself and cherishing your self-worth, and her passion is to spread that message far and wide Writing | Nicola Arnold
‘This is me.’
Three words which have been the most important I have ever communicated. Why? Because they meant I had overcome a disease that paralysed me for years, and manifested in a side-effect called ‘self-doubt’. I believe many of us are either suffering as I did, or are in recovery from ‘I am not enough syndrome’. In June 2018, I shared my own breakthrough story of self-worth at a conference, and introduced delegates to a tool I use to challenge the perception of the truth we have around self-belief. I was dressed in bright pink, and I depicted my story by using sign language to sign The Greatest Showman’s ‘This Is Me’. It was terrifying, yet liberating at the same time. I danced with the comparison gremlin for years, lying awake at night feeling like I couldn’t carry
on with certain aspects of my life because I didn’t make the grade, and would be judged or criticised. I used to gaze out of the window, wondering how life could be different. Do you speak to yourself like someone you love? I know I didn’t. I felt I was useless, needed to fade into the background, made choices based on what others wanted, and had no real purpose in life. May 2014 was the first time I admitted out loud that I had ‘I’m not enough syndrome’. Someone posed the question: “If you could say anything to the universe with no consequences, what would it be?” It felt like I was ripping open my chest and exposing my heart. I felt incredibly vulnerable, because this was the first time in my life where I felt I could acknowledge it, and say: “I’m not enough.” Continues >>>
Breaking free from the chrysalis of self-doubt inspired Nicola’s love of butterflies
I felt incredibly vulnerable, because this was the first time in my life where I felt I could acknowledge it, and say: ‘I’m not enough’
What I know now, and wish I knew then, was that so many of us say this phrase – perhaps not out loud or to others, but we all say it. I was done with dressing all in black, hiding in the background and doing things in life solely because that’s what I felt people wanted me to do. I was done with letting other people’s successes determine what I should strive for, and berating myself when my own life journey offered something different. 88 • happiful • March 2019
My a-ha moment was realising that I had a choice. Self-doubt is a choice. We can choose to wallow in these feelings, or let them go. And I chose to let it go. I wanted to be proud of my existence, to set myself free from this self-doubt, disconnection and lack of self-love. Suddenly there was a whole new world to explore. While out walking with my husband and Marley, my cocker spaniel, I became aware that my dog was teaching me a valuable lesson in the ‘spaniel perspective’. He was looking around, not down, living in the moment and not worrying about how other people viewed him.
He was simply energised, mindful and free. My friends started commenting on how much I had blossomed, even wearing colour – a big thing for me. I had always felt safe in black, blending into the background. Now I found myself starting to connect more with people. I felt confident. It was quite a transition. I realised that for a long time I was holding back from doing the things I wanted to for fear of them not being enough. When I let go of the comparison gremlin in my head, I started to enjoy and embrace my own journey. It felt so empowering.
I launched Enkindle Life Coaching four years ago. Enkindle means to ‘make luminous and glowing’ and captures the essence of what I believe. It meant I could help others like me, to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values, channel their inner confidence, and feel happy in their own skin. I also started researching into how a lack of self-worth manifests in us. Every 60 seconds on Facebook, more than 510,000 comments are posted, and 300,000 statuses are updated. In the chaos of the modern world, social media can play an integral part in our increased vulnerability as we all strive to keep moving the goalposts of what success looks like, and hold up the facade that we are happy in every waking moment. Now I use social media in a different way, to share positivity. In 2016, I launched the Happy to be ME hub – an online Facebook community where people can share what’s made them smile, and how
Nicola with her husband and their cocker spaniel, Marley
Nicola Arnold is a certified professional co-active coach, helping individuals to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values. Search ‘Nicola Arnold This Is Me’ on YouTube to watch her performance.
I go to bed with a ‘ta-dah’ list, not a to-do list – celebrating what’s made me smile that day, and what I’ve achieved they can channel self-worth as a lifestyle, not a luxury. It has fostered a culture where everyone supports and champions each other to be their authentic selves. I believe that if we connect with the present and change the perspective of comparison, we can make a difference. We can encourage and inspire our generation and beyond.
Over the past four years, I’ve learnt we shouldn’t let anyone, or social media, define us. You are an individual, with your own journey in life, and your own choices to make. Only you can empower yourself and give yourself permission to embrace compassion, and appreciate your own qualities, letting go of self-doubt and comparison. I believe one of the best ways to do this is through gratitude. Part of my life purpose is to encourage as many people as possible to channel gratitude, and foster a positive mindset that contributes to mental and physical wellbeing. I engage in regular gratitude practices, and go to bed with a ‘ta-dah’ list, not a to-do list
– celebrating what’s made me smile that day, and what I’ve achieved. Practising mindfulness is also something that helps to settle my mind, and allows me to notice the amazing tapestry of the world that surrounds me. Ultimately, I now know that I matter. I am only one
person, yet my behaviour and interactions can cause a cascade of love and warmth across the people I engage with, and help others to understand that self-worth is a lifestyle, not a luxury. So will you join me and stand up, shine bright and know your worth?
Our Expert Says Nicola’s story highlights something that will resonate with many of us – the unspoken assumption that we aren’t good enough. Nicola realised that the person who was actually telling her that, was herself, and that in reality, she had a choice about how she felt. From there on in, her life changed from doubt and disconnection, to positivity and possibility. There is so much to gain and share when we ditch the negativity, and choose to become our own best friend! Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr Life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation
March 2019 • happiful • 89
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Activist, author, co-creator of the Where’s Your Head At? campaign, and founder of the MH Media Charter, Natasha Devon MBE is a force to be reckoned with. Here, she shares the insights and lessons she’s picked up on the way Follow Natasha on Twitter and instagram at @_NatashaDevon
Mental health matters to me because… I am a human being in possession of a mind. Whether we realise it or not, we all have a status of mental health, and it is both affected by and affects everything – from what we eat for breakfast, to how much we sleep at night. When I need support I… refer to a diagram of my network I drew a few years ago, and work out who the best person to approach is. I have people who can advise me on work-related worries, and those who are better at emotional conundrums. I have friends who will give me tough love, and others who’ll scoop me into a cuddle, stroke my hair, and tell me I’m fabulous while feeding me cake. They’re all needed at different times. When I need some self-care, I… go to my parents’ house in Essex to visit our family pooch, Mae. It’s a running joke at home that I’ve ‘come
to see the dog’, but there’s more than a grain of truth to it. Mae is magic – she can tune into my mood, instinctively knowing whether a walk, session of ball throwing in the garden, or cuddles on the sofa is going to soothe my soul. The books I turn to time and again are… Believe Me by Eddie Izzard, and Help by Simon Amstell. I must have read them both about seven times; they’re the perfect blend of humour and wisdom. Having said that, reading fiction is key to my sanity – when you work in mental health, it’s important to have distractions. Some great
Reading fiction is key to my sanity – when you work in mental health, it’s important to have distractions
novels I’ve read recently are The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Charmed Life of Alex Moore by Molly Flatt, and Clean by Juno Dawson. People I find inspiring online are… challenging the status quo, preferably with humour. Some of my Twitter favs include Stephanie Yeboah (@nerdabouttown), Laura Thomas (@laurathomasphd), Shahroo Izardi (@ShahrooIzadi), Aaron Gillies (@technicallyron), and Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch). Three things I would say to someone experiencing mental ill-health are… 1. It’s not your fault. 2. You are not alone. 3. This too shall pass. The moment I felt most proud of myself was… in 2010, the first time one of the young people I’d been working with in schools and colleges wrote to tell me how my lesson on mental health had impacted their life. I remember their exact phrasing: “I wouldn’t have got through my A-levels, or probably have survived to this point, without you.” Natasha Devon MBE is an activist and author of ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental’. You can find out more about her at natashadevon.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @_NatashaDevon
Photography | Fabio Comparelli
Some old-fashioned. things like fresh air. and sunshine are. .hard to beat.
December 2018 • happiful • 91 – LAURA INGALLS WILDER
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