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The Magazine Devoted to Mental Health

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Nov 2018 / £4

* This Movember *



Lifting the veil on the cyberbullying crisis


No ‘stiff upper lip’ needed

Bring back the fun

‘By walking, I can pinpoint the root of my anxiety’

And why being a big kid is good for you! p50

Humblebrag alert !


Boast loud & proud – why you should shake the subtlety

Know where to turn & who to call in crisis


heroes wear capes... Not all

9 772514

Jonny and Neil: A life saved, a friendship forged. From strangers on a bridge to changing the world

Free mental health poster


It all starts with one conversation

Kate Humble | £4.00


reasons you need to embrace playtime

The Happiful

Helpline Guide

C R I S I S S U P P O RT If you are in crisis and are concerned for your own safety, call 999, or go to A&E Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email them on

How and where to access mental health support by Happiful Magazine

General lines

SANEline – offers support and information | 0300 304 7000 Mind – support and information, and where to get help 0300 123 3393 |

Addiction Alcoholics Anonymous – A helpline for those with alcohol issues, staffed by recovering alcoholics 0800 9177 650

Bereavement The Bereavement Trust – A charity supporting people through grief 0800 435 455 |

Anxiety Anxiety UK – A charity working to relieve and support those living with anxiety 03444 775 774 07537 416 905 |

Bipolar Disorder Bipolar UK – Advice and support 0333 323 3880 |

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

No Panic – Support and information 0844 967 4848 Youth Helpline (13–20-year-olds) 0330 606 1174 |

BPD World – For information about BPD, and to search for support groups and help


Eating Disorders Disorders Eating

Counselling Directory – Search for counsellors in your area

Beat Eating Disorders – Beat offers support and information for those living with eating disorders


Adult helpline: 0808 801 0677

Depression UK – Support and friendship for anyone effected by depression

1 in 4

people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year

Live 1-2-1 webchats are available

Nutrition Nutritionist Resource – Find a nutritionist in your area |

Financial Crisis Stepchange Debt Charity – Providing comprehensive debt advice

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Maternal Mental Health Maternal Mental Health Alliance Care, support and information for women during pregnancy and in the years after giving birth

ASSIST Trauma Care– ASSIST Trauma Care offers support for adults and children, individuals and families, affected by a wide range of traumatic occurrences. 01788 560800

Youthline: 0808 801 0711

Hypnotherapy Directory – Find a hynotherapist in your area

Stonewall – Find information and support near you 08000 50 20 20 |

PTSD UK–Information and guidance on where to get help for PTSD.

Studentline: 0808 801 0811


LGBT+ Support

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Childline – A confidential line for children if they need help or advice 0800 1111

Switchboard – A line for LGBT+ support 0300 330 0630

Abuse National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline – Run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s aid 0808 2000 247

The Silver Line – for those aged over 55 | 0800 4708 090

CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a support line for men | 0800 58 58 58


OCD Action – Support and advice for those living with OCD 0845 390 6232 | 020 7253 2664 OCD-UK – For children and adults affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 03332 127 890 |

Schizophrenia Living with Schizophrenia UK – Support and information for anyone living with schizophrenia | YoungMinds – 24/7 mental health support for those in crisis | Text YM to 85258 for urgent help |

Therapy Therapy Directory– Search for therapists in your area |

Please check individual websites for operating hours | For more information and help visit

It’ Frsenever e to heask lpline overreacting forswhat want uppyou ort poster and need


- Amy Peohler

Editor’s Favourites

“This too shall pass...” Working on this month’s issue, it’s a proverb that’s been on my mind. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, it’s a reminder that whatever we are currently going through – good or bad – it won’t last forever. Whether we’re in the midst of a mental health crisis, or feeling on top of the world, it’s a simple phrase that can resonate strongly, and yet mean a completely different thing to two separate people. Our cover stars Jonny and Neil would probably never have expected to be in their current position 10 years ago, when they first met on Waterloo Bridge – mental health activists literally changing lives, and promoting suicide awareness.

With our special focus on men’s mental health this month, we ask that you watch out for the men in your lives, or even, like cover star Neil, reach out to a stranger, and together we can encourage openness from all. We hear from the Movember Foundation about their active goals to reduce suicides, and how you can join their mission – whether by growing a handlebar moustache, or clocking 60 miles in the month. Robert shares his personal journey of living with schizophrenia, and poet Hussain expresses the power of finding our own individual therapy, to manage our grief. While recovery isn’t always linear, and unfortunately, we can’t promise it won’t get worse before it gets better, keep going.

But for anyone in a similar position to Jonny all those years ago, remember that “this too shall pass”. We can’t promise it’ll be tomorrow, next week, or even next year. But you won’t feel this way forever, and that’s something to hold on to.

As the philosopher Heraclitus said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Happy reading,

And for anyone in a positive place, who may have come through the woods, it’s a reminder to savour the moment. Practise gratefulness and enjoy the present – something that’s so easy to forget is a gift.

Rebecca Thair Editor

Don’t forget to join us on social media, we love hearing from you!




This Month in Happiful

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The Uplift


18 Jonny Benjamin &

8 In the news


The conversation that changed both of their lives, and why they’re encouraging other men to reach out

12 The wellbeing wrap

Neil Laybourn

26 Positive psychology

Embracing the science behind mental wellness and how it could change your life

40 Kate Humble

The therapeutic power of walking and how the TV presenter manages anxiety

53 Cyberbullying

With two in five young people reporting online bullying, how do we stamp it out?

Life Stories 33 Waking from a nightmare Robert Bayley has lived with paranoid schizophrenia for most of his life, but found catharsis in creating music that expresses his condition

45 Reclaiming my identity

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, Danielle Simpson has navigated the road to appreciating her “new normal”

70 Life after addiction

With the help of rehab, yoga and selfbelief, Nathaniel Orona escaped the addiction he’d struggled with since 15

87 Discovering inner strength

After anxiety ruled her life for years, Hayley Grant-Bampton was forced to take it seriously when she had a panic attack. Now, she’s reaching out to help others

Happiful Hacks

14 Are you a humblebragger? Here’s why we need to get real about our own achievements

67 Reboot your commute

84 The Movember Foundation Grow a “Mo”, save a “Bro”, and build a healthier world for men everywhere

Lifestyle & Relationships 36 Hussain Manawer

The poet behind a viral MH experiment explains why we must keep talking

48 Men’s self-care corner


For 12 print issues! Pay for 10 months, get 2 free Happiful delivered to your door before it hits the shelves UK post and packaging included Competitions and prize draws!



What does this highly-effective treatment mean for people with trauma?

Culture 39 MH podcast starter kit 78 Book review

A personal and psychological look at the reaons why people complete suicide

80 Mother of Daughters

Midwife, mother, and influencer, on adultonly sanctuaries, and talking MH with kids

30 Spot a depressive episode

Food & Drink

72 End parenting anxiety


The author, podcaster and campaigner on celebrating what really matters in life

90 Unsung hero

50 Start prioritising play


63 Deborah James

16 How to make genuine connections online



Is your daily journey to work taking a toll on your mental health?


Completely free online Same great content as in print Exclusive offers Competitions!

The life coach using her expertise to teach children about self-esteem

57 The gut-brain connection What connects our brains and bellies?

60 Healthy home takeaway

A nutritious take on classic fish and chips

Free helpline support poster download

OUR PLEDGE For every tree we use to print this magazine, we will ensure two are planted or grown. Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing. Offer expires 12 December 2018. For full terms and conditions, please visit


EXPERT PANEL Introducing the professionals behind Happiful Magazine helping to ensure we deliver the highest quality advice

OUR TEAM EDITORIAL Rebecca Thair | Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Editorial Assistant Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor Fe Robinson | Expert Advisor Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer


Rosan Magar | Illustrator

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ANNA WILLIAMSON Anna is a certified counsellor, life coach, and NLP practitioner.

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Fe is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor and EMDR therapist.

Graeme is a counsellor who specialises in relationships.

Lucy Donoughue, Kat Nicholls, Bonnie Evie Gifford Maurice Richmond, Becky Wright, Fiona Thomas, Katie Conibear, Gemma Calvert, Jake Mills, Victoria Pickett, Philip Karahassan, Jenna Farmer, Ellen Hoggard, Anna Williamson, Fe Robinson, Robert Bayley, Danielle Simpson, Nathaniel Orona, Hayley Grant-Bampton

Joseph Sinclair, Krishan Parmar, Amanda Clarke, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Susan Hart, Charlotte Fox Weber, Anne Millne-Riley

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Philip is an established counsellor and psychologist.


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COMMUNICATIONS Lucy Donoughue Head of Content and Communications Amie Sparrow PR Manager







Maurice Richmond Media and Communications Officer MANAGEMENT



Rachel is a life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation.

Susan is a nutrition coach and food writer, and vegan chef.

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

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CHARLOTTE FOX WEBER Charlotte is an integrative psychotherapist and counsellor.

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Contact Us



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Printed by Pensord UK

ANNE MILLNE-RILEY Anne is a hypno-psychotherapist, psychotherapist and counsellor.


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 | Collins Lesulie

WE’RE ALL ON A JOURNEY “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

The Uplift


On-off couples in more distress Breaking up and making up could be detrimental to our mental health


s romantic as it may seem to keep returning to the same partner after multiple breakups, new research from the University of MissouriColumbia has revealed that this pattern can have a negative impact on our mental health. Analysing data from 500 straight and LGBT+ couples, co-authors Brian Ogolsky and Ramona Oswald found that compared to couples that hadn’t broken up, on-off relationships were “associated with higher rates of abuse, poorer communication, and lower levels of commitment”. This, in turn, can have negative effects on our mental health. Kale Monk, assistant professor of human development and family science, told Science Daily that on-off couples were also associated with more psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms. Counsellor Beverley Hills expands on this: “In any relationship, when

8 • happiful • November 2018

communication breaks down, often emotions such as anxiety, anger, jealousy, or mistrust can set in.” So how can we break this pattern? Beverley believes communication, being more mindful, and seeking support, can help. “The most important thing to remember when you find yourself in an on-off relationship is to remind yourself that, in the ‘off ’ periods, things, you, your ideas might have changed. So, it’s vital that you communicate what’s been happening for you with your partner. “Be mindful, and check in with yourself; what can you do differently this time? This could help break any toxic pattern of behaviour, and place the relationship back on the road to recovery. Counselling can help with strategies to put in place, ensuring that you don’t merely get together again only to repeat past mistakes.” Kat Nicholls To find out more about couples counselling, visit

‘We’ talk – positive language good for relationship wellbeing New research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships has looked into 30 different couple studies to understand the use of “we-talk” within relationships (“we” and “us”, rather than “I”, “me” and “you”). It was found that this way of talking is associated with an array of positive qualities, including improved relationship functioning, behaviours, and outcomes. Those who use language that includes their partners when talking about relationships, are more likely to make better use of interpersonal skills, be better behaved towards their partner, and generally more satisfied within their relationship. It was even found that “we-talk” is associated with better physical and mental health – what better excuse to “we” all over the place?

Positive ISSUES


LGBT+ leadership is better for business Motel Sisters in care home | Harold David:

New study confirms companies with LGBT+ people in high-powered positions perform better


usinesses with LGBT+ individuals in senior positions perform at higher levels, according to researchers at Marquette University, Wisconsin. The study looked at data from 88 companies to see which had LGBT+ employees in top leadership roles, with researchers finding that 61% had one or more person in a top position. The research went on to reveal that the companies with more diverse representation scored higher in overall performance, corporate social responsibility, had better HR practices, and workforce quality. Jason Rae, from the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which commissioned the study, said: “This study supports what we have been saying for years: having LGBT+ people in leadership positions, whether as a CEO, a business owner, a part of senior management, or on the board

of directors, is good for a business’s bottom line. Simply put, diversity is good for business.” The companies that took part represented a number of fields, including education, finance, retail, leisure, and hospitality. Of the 61% of companies with an LGBT+ leader, 41.9% were found to have one person in a top role, with fewer than 10% reporting between two and four people in a top position, and just 1.6% reporting more than 10. There is still under-representation amongst the LGBT+ community at the highest level. Alan Joyce, an out gay man, became CEO of Quantas Air in 2009, while Tim Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company when he took the reigns at Apple just five years later. The CEO of Lloyd’s of London, Inga Beale, is one of only a few out bisexuals leading a major corporation. Bonnie Evie Gifford

Drag queens bring joy to nursing home Thanks to arts nonprofit Information + Cultural Exchange, drag queens Tacky and Paris (known as “The Motel Sisters”) spent a month as full-time party attendants for residents at one Sydney retirement facility – and had a hugely positive impact on seniors’ happiness, health, and wellbeing. The pair taught Zumba classes, hosted tea parties, aromatherapy sessions, and spa days, and orchestrated elaborate room makeovers for those confined to their beds. The home’s clinical care manager reported incredible results following their stay; residents with dementia wandered less and seemed less agitated, while fewer calls were logged for increased doses of medication amongst other residents. This is the latest in a series of unusual therapies reported to have a positive impact on dementia patients and the elderly: one Seattle pre-school opened inside a nursing home; a number of London nightclubs opened their doors to host “raves” to help fight loneliness amongst older people; while therapy animals are becoming increasingly more popular visitors at hospices, hospitals, and care homes, to encourage social interaction and reduce stress amongst patients.

November 2018 • happiful • 9

The Uplift


Dog owners asked to bring pets to pop-up cafe to share some furry therapy Set up by a former psychiatric nurse, Paints and Paws Pop Inn is the Manchester cafe offering animal therapy to those struggling with their mental health

10 • happiful • November 2018

of knowing they have shared their pet with someone who appreciates it, and in turn that has benefits for all involved.” The pop-up cafe is the next step in the work that Sharon already does with Noah’s Art – her animal therapy service that also offers participants a crafting element – and is one of 35 projects being funded by grants from Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, an initiative that focuses on providing more support for the community. As in the Noah’s Art service, those at the cafe can also find space to express themselves creatively in art classes, where they can make toys for the pets. The science supporting the benefits of animal therapy can’t be disputed, but Sharon thinks it’s the combination of several things that makes the Paints and Paws Pop Inn cafe so special: “Animals, community, art, all brought together in a safe space, where you can bring your dog, and enjoy a brew, and a bit of home-made cake. What could be better?” Kathryn Wheeler

Digby becomes the UK’s first firefighter therapy dog A four-month-old Australian Labradoodle puppy, named Digby, has become the latest recruit to join the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. Digby will work with the fire crews in the station after largescale fires to help prevent long-term psychological damage following traumatic events. And on his day off from the station, the hard-working pooch with be spreading some furry feel-good vibes to people in schools, hospices, and hospitals.

Digby | Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service


nformed by the incredible benefits animal therapy brings those who are lonely, or struggling with their mental health, the Paints and Paws Pop Inn cafe, in Manchester, has thrown open its doors to local dogowners, asking them to bring pets into the cafe to help others with animalassisted therapy. The cafe is run by Sharon Hall, a former psychiatric nurse, who first discovered the comfort that animals can bring after the loss of her parents, telling The Irish News that her new puppy brought a “small ray of light” into her life at a very difficult time. In addition to the pets accompanying people visiting the cafe, there are also a number of resident animals, including two rescue rabbits, Sid and Nancy, as well as rats, snails and hamsters. “The connection you get with an animal depends on you. And then that connection builds a bridge to start interacting with things and people around you,” says Sharon. “It’s a great way for people to do their bit for their community too, if they bring their own dogs. They get the satisfaction

Positive ISSUES


Photographer and actor join forces to challenge lack of diversity in Hollywood A series of photos featuring disabled actors and models starring in roles that they continue to be passed over for, is the latest call for Hollywood to bring more diversity to our screens


ollywood has a diversity problem, and it’s something that Grace Mandeville, actress and internet personality, and renowned photographer Linda Blacker have paired up to tackle with their attention-grabbing campaign: More than a Disability. The photo-series features disabled actors and models in mock Hollywood and advertising roles – from rom-com couples to action movie heroes – which continue to go to able-bodied talent. In the UK, just 1.2% of actors on our screens are disabled, and research from the Ruderman Family Foundation found that, in the US, 95% of TV characters with disabilities are played by able-bodied actors. In addition to calling for industries to be more conscious when casting for disabled roles, Grace and Linda’s campaign aims to highlight the fact that the focus of disabled actors roles does not have to be their disability. “Why can’t disabled actors be cast to play a prominent role in a romance film, a lawyer in a new TV

show, or to be the star of a fashion campaign, without the focus being their disability?” asks Grace, who was born with a foreshortened right arm [pictured right] and stars in the series as she takes on a classic perfume advert. “Change will only happen when we see some of our lead actors cast as characters in positions of power, where their disability is not the story,” says Louise Dyson, founder of VisABLE – one of the specialist disabled talent agencies that assisted with casting the campaign shoot. “Obviously their demographic has to be credible, but we get far too many roles where the only opening for a disabled actor is a victim, or a patient.” While there’s still a long way to go for on-screen parity, today casting directors are riding the wave of change driven by campaigns like these that demand equal representation. To join the campaign and view the full photo-series, search #MoreThanADisability on Twitter. Kathryn Wheeler

da shot by Linda Santiago Ospina Loza se Studio Blacker, Shutter Hou

Grace Mandeville shot by Linda Blacker, Shutter House Studio. Makeup Artist: Stephanie Stokkvik

HAPPIFUL BRIEFS River Island’s AW18 campaign ditches labels In another win for diversity in fashion, Kathleen Humbertone – a 19-year-old part-time model, and international public speaker with Down’s Syndrome – is to star alongside others in fashion retailer River Island’s AW18 campaign “Labels are for Clothes”. Improve diversity in 10 steps A report from the think-tank New Financial has highlighted 10 ways that asset management firms can tackle widespread lack of diversity in the industry. It is hoped that the 10 tips will help firms make longlasting change.

November 2018 • happiful • 11


wellbeing wrap

From the musicians turning homophobic hate mail into music, to why you can embrace your sloth side, here’s a quick run-down of the intriguing, unusual, and uplifting stories in the news this month

Music to our ears

A sweet exchange sparked by buying a stranger a coffee has gone viral, after the recipient of the drink – stressed-out mum, Nicole – realised the act of kindness was from a neighbour she’d never met, and sent a thank you note. She revealed she’d been having a tough time recently, but the kind act of buying her a drink made her day. She wrote: “I felt it necessary for you to know that what you did for me was more than just a coffee. It was something that has turned my whole day around, put tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, and I feel so grateful.” It goes to show you never know how valuable a little bit of kindness can be.

Food for thought Oscar Ekponimo, an entrepreneur from Abuja, Nigeria, has developed an app to address food waste and poverty. Fuelled by his own experience of going hungry as a child, Chowberry connects people with food that might otherwise be thrown away. With UN figures suggesting 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year, and 14 million people in Nigeria classed as undernourished, Oscar’s invention could be an innovative solution to the hunger problem.

Survival of the sluggish Next time you ditch the gym after a long day, maybe cut yourself some slack. A new study published in the Journal of Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences has found that higher metabolic rates are a reliable predictor of the likelihood of extinction, after studying almost 300 species over 12 • happiful • November 2018

a 5 million year period. So having a rest day now and then is actually good for the fate of human-kind – but maybe don’t go full-on sloth mode permanently.

Image | Instagram @gaytenor

Pay it forward

Following a performance featuring music by LGBT+ composers, the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, in Sweden, received some nasty hate mail – and their response hit the perfect note. On tenor Rickard Söderberg’s suggestion, the orchestra turned the words into an opera libretto. He said: “I cannot let hate with such poetical ambitions go unnoticed.” An inventive response deserving a crescendo of applause!

Clear conscience commuting

To tackle waste, an innovative scheme in Istanbul, Turkey, has seen the city install machines called “Smart Mobile Waste Transfer Centers”, allowing commuters to exchange plastic waste for credits towards travel on public transport in the city – like eco-friendly vending machines! Sounds like they’re on the road to success.

Weird, wonderful and welcoming news

Having a whale of a time Watching marine life is good for our health and wellbeing, according to researchers from the University of York. To investigate this, the scientists intend to monitor people’s heart rate and brain activity when visiting an aquarium, to see the physiological responses to the calming sea-life exhibits, alongside how music can affect this experience as well. I guess we’ll just have to wait and seal for the results!



feel inspired by online fitness posts

If you struggle to put a face to a name, don’t worry, you’re in good company. According to a study in Current Directions in Psychological Science, names are genuinely more difficult to remember, because they don’t necessarily describe that person. Plus, while you probably know a lot of people with the same name, their face is different. To help spark your memory, try repeating a person’s name after they’re introduced, or associate their name with something about them.


No time to waste

utilising recyclable materials over the next decade, while 57% noted that the price of an item would determine what they bought in the future.

More shoppers are concerned with reducing waste than the cost of an item, according to research by ThoughtWorks. The survey revealed that 62% of people were interested in reducing plastic packaging and

Who hasn’t seen a post-exercise pic in their Insta feed – or shared one now and then – but have you ever stopped to think why you’re sharing? To motivate yourself, to brag? While 30% of people feel inspired by online fitness posts, 36% say it makes them unhappy, according to a survey from, which has looked into gym-goers’ perceptions of documenting a workout on social media. The research found that those questioned were most irritated by those sharing pics with the hashtags #gains (15%) and #newyearnewme (15%). Could be time to exercise caution when sharing online…

It must be love...

Research by eharmony has looked into our habits around the “L-word”, and found that on average, people in the UK take 137 days (or four and a half months) to declare their love. Those living in the east of England are most likely to wear their hearts on their sleeves, saying “I love you” quickest (106 days), while Londoners typically wait 194 days. The survey also revealed that Brits are likely to say “I love you” to three romantic partners during their life. Well, they do say third time’s the charm.

November 2018 • happiful • 13

The Uplift | The Explainer

humblebragger? Are you a

‘I always need my ID on me – people never believe how old I am.’ ‘I’m so stressed. I applied to six jobs and I’ve been offered them all, so I don’t know what to do.’ Everyone loves to celebrate their achievements, but no one likes to feel big-headed. This is when humblebragging can sneak in... Writing | Becky Wright Illustrating | Rosan Magar


t feels good to share our successes, doesn’t it? We all want to feel valued and important, and that’s why we like to boast about our accomplishments. Now, thanks to social media, we’re able to share that excitement more than ever before. What was once only said at a get-together with friends, is now broadcast to everyone with a quick post. Some brags are about a specific personal accomplishment – the key to a new house, an engagement, or a promotion. But, other brags can be more subtle. And if you look closely, they’ll often sound a lot like complaints. “I always regret doing a good job on a project, because then my boss makes me the lead on another one.” “I hate that I look so young; even a 19-year-old asked me out.” Ah, the humblebrag. A seemingly modest or self-deprecating statement, with the intention of drawing attention to something you’re proud of. But is this just manufactured modesty? Are people

14 • happiful • November 2018

doing it as a guise for overt bragging, or is it because we’re just too modest to sing our own praises directly? Charlotte Fox Weber, head of psychotherapy at The School of Life, says it can be difficult to tell what the precise motivations are behind this. “Humblebrags come at you pretending to be something else. Is this person complaining? Self-attacking? Fishing for compliments? What’s happening?” A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people choose to humblebrag as an attempt to enhance self-presentation, and ultimately, to gain respect from others. The problem is that we live in a culture that prizes modesty, but also values self-confidence. The art of the humblebrag then, is in minimising the potential for people to see you as egocentric, by diluting the brag. By adding a negative comment, the hope is that listeners somehow won’t detect the brag – or at least they won’t be offended by it.

According to psychotherapist and counsellor Anne Millne-Riley, humblebraggers are regular frequenters of the therapy room. “These types of clients generally book a session to discuss their dissatisfaction with some area of their lives, be it their career, relationships or finances. However, the real issue – and what they all have in common – is that they usually have low self-esteem, and they are almost certainly self-absorbed.” So, humblebragging may actually be a coping strategy for those with low selfesteem, looking to boost their own ego. But as it turns out, humblebragging may fall flat on its face. According to a study by Harvard University, Massachusetts, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it can receive a more negative response than straight-up self-promotion. Researchers found that regular bragging faired better on tests surrounding the speaker’s perceived likability and competence, because it comes over as genuine.

Trending UPDATE

The art of the humblebrag then, is in minimising the potential for people to see you as egocentric, by diluting the brag So, sincerity appears to be the key ingredient. Even though bragging and boasting can be frowned upon, at least it comes across as sincere. Humblebragging, on the other hand, feels strategic – and it seems we can see straight through it. Charlotte says: “I find myself feeling confused by humblebrags because of the insincerity – there’s a sense that the person is saying one thing but means something else, and that’s the part that feels inauthentic. Just show off! Or admit to an insecurity.” But maybe it’s more than that. Hearing a humblebrag is also thought to trigger any personal struggles we have and, inevitably, we compare ourselves to the speaker. “When a

humblebragger asserts their superiority by dropping in comments which let you know how important or brilliant they are, your news – that your child just learnt to ride a bike, or that you’ve been enjoying learning to cook Italian food – then doesn’t seem so interesting in comparison,” says Anne. But, rather than falling into the comparison trap and allowing the humblebragger’s comments to make you feel less than worthy, we can use self-awareness to minimise the humblebragging effect. The trick is to try empathising with them instead. Anne tells us: “I urge you to notice humblebragging when it happens, because the braggers are likely to be far more insecure than you. Sooner or later, they will have to face the

reality that humblebragging doesn’t protect them from feeling vulnerable indefinitely.” Charlotte adds: “I think we all humblebrag to some extent, and it’s important to keep an open mind about why. Most of us crave recognition or affirmation, and we don’t feel that we’re allowed to boast. So rather than showing off, we smuggle in self-praise in a way that we hope will alert people to our wonderfulness, covertly. It’s not so covert, and it usually backfires, but it’s insecurity, badly expressed.” So, the moral of the story is that, sometimes, we all need to toot our own horns. But, the trick is to take the “humble” out of humblebragging, and make sure we’re doing it loudly and proudly. November 2018 • happiful • 15

Happiful Hack



How to make

genuine connections online The internet is a great place to meet new people – but sadly, not everyone is who they say they are. Here are some simple precautions you can take to frustrate the frauds only out to fool you


he ways in which we build and nurture relationships are changing. We’re no longer expected to follow the tried and tested formula of marrying our first love, moving into a house down the street from our parents, and hanging out solely with the people we went to school with.

Writing | Fiona Thomas Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Although those things do still happen, many of us are forging relationships in new ways using digital spaces. With dating apps like Tinder and Happn, we can potentially meet “the one” while scrolling on the sofa. We’re also setting up online companies from our phones, having board meetings on Skype, and finding our future business partners on

Bumble. We’re even finding long-lost relatives by researching our DNA history on the world wide web. If you’ve made new friends on social media, that’s great! It really is a convenient way to find people with similar interests, who you may never have met otherwise. But how can you be certain that the people you meet on the internet are genuine?


We all portray a slightly tweaked version of ourselves online, so much so that even our kids are learning how to do it from an early age. A recent survey showed that, in the past year, nearly half of children aged from eight to 17 have used a filter to make themselves look different. Almost a quarter said they don’t know how to control who sees their social media profile, and only half said they think before posting a personal photo or video online. No matter what age you are, you should be putting some serious thought into how you interact with strangers online.

1 Know your privacy settings

Are your social media profiles set to private? If you’re not sure, then you should do some quick checks before you start seeking connections online. Facebook and Instagram make profiles public by default, but you can choose who gets to see your information. The safest option is to only allow friends to view your posts, but make sure that your friend list is made up of people you trust.

2 Be extra careful on dating apps

Internet safety experts Kaspersky found that some dating apps were particularly vulnerable to personal data breaches. They advise keeping personal data-sharing to a minimum, especially if you use dating apps. You should never put your full name, other social accounts, or email address on there. As an extra precaution, you should never access dating sites on unprotected WiFi networks.

3 Don’t overshare

This might seem obvious, but go back and check all of your profiles to see what information you’re already sharing. Many of us filled out the basics years ago, before we realised how the data could be used. Do you really want everyone knowing your

hometown, job history, and current address? Remember this, too, when tagging yourself in certain locations. Do you really want people to know where you are at all times? For your own safety, take photographs and upload them later, once you’ve actually left the area.

4 Watch for red flags

We’re all for making new friends online, but you should be aware that not everyone is who they make themselves out to be. Unfortunately, some people use the internet to prey on the vulnerable. If someone is making you uncomfortable – by asking too many personal questions, liking all of your posts, or asking for your address – you shouldn’t be afraid to block them. Another red flag is if your “friend” is watching your activity online closely and reporting back to you, almost as though they want you to know they are observing you.

5 Join professionally managed groups

A good way to meet new friends is to go through an organisation which sets up events on behalf of its members. Bryony Gordon pioneered a group called Mental Health Mates, which runs monthly walks nationwide. Twitter is a good place to find local networking events in your area. You can also check libraries and community websites for writing groups, exercise classes, or volunteer projects.



6 Meet in a safe space

If you hit it off with a friend online and feel comfortable setting up a meeting, always choose the setting wisely. Meet in a public place, such as a shopping centre or a restaurant, with familiar and accessible transport links. Get someone to drop you off and pick you up at a specific time, or even better, ask a friend along, too. November 2018 • happiful • 17

Neil: Shirt | American Apparel, Jonny: Shirt | Next

Neil [left] and Jonny [right]: Embracing life on the Happiful cover shoot


Brilliantly Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn first met in early 2008, when Neil approached Jonny, who was sitting on the edge of Waterloo Bridge, and asked if he was all right. The conversation that followed was to change both of their lives forever. Fast forward 10 years, and the two now work together to improve the public’s understanding of mental health, and to champion suicide prevention. They constantly promote the role we can all play in helping each other, and the need to eradicate any shame or stigma that remains around mental illness. By sharing their own stories and experiences, Neil and Jonny are opening doors for so many others to do the same. A decade on from that day they first met, Happiful caught up with them both to talk about mental health, self-care, friendship, chickens‌ and the power of taking a moment to speak to a stranger

Interview | Lucy Donoughue

Photography | Joseph Sinclair

Jonny & Neil | ‘Are you all right mate?’


t’s been an incredibly busy time of late for mental health advocates Neil Laybourn and Jonny Benjamin. The week we meet began with National Suicide Prevention Day, and has included their support of #talkingsuicide (a campaign to encourage the media to use correct terminology when talking about suicide), a project launch with Unmind, a discussion between Jonny and his father at the Mental Wealth Festival, a seminar at a tech company, and filming with Mental Health First Aid. Their week finishes with our photoshoot and interview, last thing on Friday afternoon. However, both Jonny and Neil are enthusiastic and ready to talk more when they arrive. When I mention how full-on their workload has been, Neil is keen to point out that they also actively prioritise their wellbeing and time off. “August was a quieter month, so we’ve had some down time, which helps us to put our own self-care and mindfulness in place. Jonny’s been travelling, and I’ve been spending time with my family and newborn [six-month-old Sophia]. We’ve come into autumn re-energised and ready to ramp up the campaign work. There’s a lot of people we’ll be able to reach.” Jonny adds: “We feel really privileged to have the conversations we do about mental health, and also the variety of places we travel to, and the people we get to meet.” I ask if the constant focus on mental health and illness in their work life can be hard at times? Jonny considers

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the question. “I feel very lucky – but it can be overwhelming. Often you hear pretty sad stories, and a lot of it is about lack of access to services. I hear it time and time again; people are being let down. I don’t think we realise the scale of it.” And the impact of this? “It can be difficult for me. I absorb it all, I go away and I constantly think about what I can do. There are so many people we speak to – family, friends, people who are bereaved by suicide. Every story is so tragic, and I do carry that around.”

I feel very lucky – but it can be overwhelming. Often you hear pretty sad stories, and a lot of it is about lack of access to services. I hear it time and time again; people are being let down – Jonny It is understandable that these accounts of mental health stay with Jonny. He has spoken and written widely about his own diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder – a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar. His mission, now working with Neil too, is to help others and continue to campaign for better mental health provision and suicide prevention support, not just in the UK, but globally. Jonny was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia, at the age of 20 – just a month before he and Neil met on London’s Waterloo Bridge, on a cold January day in 2008. Jonny had left a

psychiatric hospital that morning with the intention of completing suicide. Neil stopped to talk, after seeing him sitting on the edge of the bridge, initially asking Jonny if he was alright. After some prompting, Jonny told Neil about his diagnosis, and in turn Neil told him that he really believed he would get better. It was this statement of faith from a stranger, Jonny says, that was the turning point. He agreed to Neil’s suggestion of a coffee, moving away from the edge of the bridge, but the police swiftly intervened, taking Jonny to hospital where he was sectioned. Neil continued his journey to work and his job as a personal trainer. For both men, this must have been a startling end to their unexpected encounter. In a chapter of Jonny’s recently released book, The Stranger on the Bridge: My Journey From Despair to Hope, Neil tells of his experience: “I went straight into work mode. I didn’t explain why I was late; in fact I didn’t tell anybody about the incident for quite a while, except for [his wife] Sarah.” Neil reflects back on how he processed his first meeting with Jonny. “I think I see it as the syndrome of being a man. Something really big and transformational happened – for me – for my part of the interaction. I was walking by, and I saw something I have never seen; I was having a conversation about suicide for the first time in my life, and my mind was going a thousand miles a minute. “Afterwards, I did that thing a lot of guys do; my instinct was ‘push it to the back of your mind, no one wants to hear about your day’. I felt it was up to me to deal with what was happening in my own head. I know now it would have been healthier to speak to someone.” Continues >>>

Neil: T-shirt | The Kooples, Cardigan | Edmund Hillary. Trousers | Next, Jonny: Shirt | Edmund Hillary, Trousers | Next


November 2018 • happiful • 21

Jonny & Neil | ‘Are you all right mate?’

Top | Forever 21, Trousers |Neil: Scotch Jumper & Soda | John Smedley, Jonny: Jumper | Next

However, Neil had the opportunity to address the events of that day, six years after their life-changing meeting in the middle of London. Jonny, working with Rethink Mental Illness and Channel 4, set about looking for Neil, and an international campaign #FindMike (Jonny didn’t know Neil’s name at the time) brought the two of them together, capturing the emotional reunion as part of a documentary. Jonny and Neil’s journey has taken many twists and turns since

their reunion. Together they have fronted mental health initiatives, run the London marathon for Heads Together, received awards and the highest accolades (HRH the Duke of Cambridge wrote a foreword for Jonny’s book), and made a real difference to a huge amount of people through their campaigning, writing, and speaking engagements. Both men are proud of everything they’ve achieved, and Jonny remains characteristically open about the impact the ever-growing workload has had on his mental I was walking by, and I saw health. “I found parts of last year very tough. something I have never seen; was one week I was having a conversation about There where we went from suicide for the first time in my Canada, to the US, to the UK non-stop, and I just life, and my mind was going a cracked.” thousand miles a minute “A wake-up call for me was my relapse last – Neil

22 • happiful • November 2018

February. I had a psychotic episode in the middle of London, in public. Thankfully, Neil was with me, and got me to hospital. It was a horrible experience for us both. “I knew it was coming; I kept saying to Neil, ‘We’ve got the London Marathon in April, I’ll keep going until after that,’ but the brain doesn’t work that way. It decides when enough is enough. I’ve learnt I have to prioritise my mental health.” Neil nods in agreement. “There were times last year when you couldn’t turn up because you had your mental health to manage. This year you haven’t had to miss one engagement. Last year, we were trying to say yes to everything, and it was stressful for both of us – and you’re managing something I’m not. But this year is such a contrast, so you’re obviously doing something good with your self-care?”


It’s clear from this exchange – and from the rest of the time I spend with them – that Jonny and Neil have a great relationship. Their individual experiences and viewpoints make for a great combination, and both are equally passionate about their mission of eradicating stigma, and improving the help available for people experiencing mental ill-health and suicidal thoughts.

I kept saying to Neil, ‘We’ve got the London Marathon in April, I’ll keep going until after that,’ but the brain doesn’t work that way. It decides when enough is enough – Jonny Jonny is aware of this alchemy too, but has a slightly different take on why it works so well. “From my point of view, Neil’s role is almost more important than mine. When we talk about that day on the bridge, people in the audience are thinking: ‘Could I start that conversation?’ Then they listen to Neil, and they understand it was a human conversation – a human connection – and that they could help someone in crisis. “Neil is very honest when he speaks; he says he wasn’t an expert and just went with his gut instinct, and asked questions. Hearing his side of the story is really important. Neil calls himself an ally, and it’s important to hear the perspective of the ally. It makes others realise that they can be a mental health ally, too.’’ Neil has been looking thoughtful while Jonny was talking, and now

leans towards him. “You’re being a bit humble… When Jonny talks – that’s when people feel that they can open up, because they’ve seen someone else be vulnerable. I don’t do that. I still find it hard now to talk about my thoughts and feelings when I go home. Jonny doesn’t.” The conversation turns to why some men might find it hard to talk about how they are doing. I’m keen to hear from Jonny and Neil about something else that many men I know struggle with: self-care. I ask, how can men prioritise looking after themselves? “The very term self-care, the act of caring for yourself, I don’t think it’s something that’s been associated with traditional masculinity,” Jonny says. “Traditional masculinity is all about being strong, not emotional, not vulnerable, not sensitive… Self-care implies being sensitive and tender with yourself.” “I’d love to see more men taking care of themselves. It’s not a concept that comes easily though. Some of my male friends laugh at me because I like taking baths…” “I like taking baths!” Neil exclaims. “Jonny and I also spa together… we’ve got one next week. Whenever we’re away working, we try to book a hotel with a spa, so we can chill out.” Neil continues: “My self-care really comes from the family home. When I was a personal trainer it came from a lot of fitness activities, but now it’s very much about the time spent in my relationships, and that for me is mindful. Anything, can be mindful – it doesn’t have to be yoga or pilates,” he pauses. “This conversation is mindful. It’s all about how you think and frame your experiences.” Neil is also quick to credit Jonny for understanding his needs when it comes to his family. “When I found out we were going to have a baby, I

NEIL: HOW TO REACH OUT TO A FRIEND IN NEED “Choose the environment carefully, try to have the conversation when the moment is right, and not force the issue. You have to ask direct questions that may feel uncomfortable, so practise asking them beforehand – ‘Are you struggling,’ or ‘Is something going on?’ “Do it authentically, do it genuinely – when you catch someone in a moment, and ask them a sincere, direct question, you’ll be surprised how that person then feels they have permission to open up. “To men who are struggling to open up, I would say that the people around you will be grateful if you do. So try it – you never know, you might like it.”

spoke to Jonny about my upcoming paternity leave, and he was so supportive. He just said ‘Mate, it’s fine – I know we’re always busy, but you have to take this time off,’ and I think I really needed to hear that. Continues >>>

November 2018 • happiful • 23

Jonny & Neil | ‘Are you all right mate?’

JONNY: HOW TO REACH OUT TO A FRIEND IN NEED “For me, being vulnerable about my experiences in front of other men seems to allow them to speak out too. I’ve also been vulnerable with male friends about their situations, saying: “I’ve just been a bit worried about you, you’ve not been yourself – and that’s OK, I’m here for you.” It’s amazing what comes out when you let your walls down; it allows other people to bring theirs down too. I’ve seen it happen.”

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“Sometimes we need permission from others – but self permission, your relationship with yourself, is also key, and something we all have to work on – as well as self-care.” Jonny, who has been having his hair styled for the shoot, looks across at us both. “But has he told you about his chickens yet?!” “My chickens!” Neil’s face lights up. “Betty and Margot were a present for my wife from her parents, and I sort of adopted them. Looking after something, nurturing another living sentient being, knowing you are caring for something or someone, is a really mindful act in itself, I think… and I get fresh eggs every day.” Jonny tells me Neil’s chickens are so important to him that he sent a text last year saying he couldn’t come to work – and to an incredibly important meeting – because his chicken was sick. The two burst out laughing. “Noone would flinch if I said my dog was ill,” Neil responds. The laughter spills over to the photo shoot, as Jonny and Neil try various forms of acrobatics, and goof around for the camera. It’s great to see a reminder of what wonderful things can happen when we take the time to talk and look out for each other, even if we are strangers. Try it. You could just start with: ‘‘Mate, are you all right?” Jonny and Neil have organised This Can Happen, a one-day conference on 20 November in London, tackling mental health in the workplace. For more information visit Jonny’s book ‘The Stranger On The Bridge: My Journey from Despair to Hope’ (Bluebird, RRP £16.99), is available now. If you need support, or are having suicidal thoughts, please call Samaritans on 116 1123 or email Please remember, you are not alone.

Grooming | Amanda Clarke at Joy Goodman using Burt’s Bees, and Paul Mitchell Styling | Krishan Parmar

Denim blazer and jeans | Waven, Shoes | Melissa

Looking after something, nurturing another living sentient being, knowing you are caring for something or someone, is a really mindful act in itself, I think – Neil

September 2018 • happiful • 25

Book cover | Feed Me Vegan: For All Occasions published by Sphere

Studying Happiness

U N PA C K I N G POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY Is positive psychology about thinking positively? Can we actually boost our own happiness? Let’s investigate the latest hot topic in psychology and see how it could work for us


earing the phrase “positive psychology” may prompt visions of rainbows and sunshine. “Think positive” might be ringing in your ears, and if you’ve ever struggled with your mental health, this could make you recoil. But is this really what positive psychology is about? Expert Dottie Woods says no. “Positive psychology is deep and meaningful,” explains Dottie. “It enables people to look into their inner selves, acknowledging their weaknesses and celebrating their strengths without bias, and allowing us to challenge our perceptions. “It asks the question, why do some people languish, and fail to thrive, while others flourish? Can we learn from those who flourish?” Historically, psychology has focused on what can go wrong with our mental health, and what we can do when the worst happens. This work is essential, but looking into what helps our mental health thrive is, arguably, just as important.

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Writing | Kat Nicholls


Initiated in 1998 by Martin Seligman and a collection of psychologists (including Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ed Diener and Ray Fowler), positive psychology was officially introduced in 1999 during Seligman’s presidential address at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. While traditional psychology had not delved deeply into the science of happiness before, Seligman doesn’t believe it is a new field, but is instead “based on work that was started as far back as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who questioned what the good life was,” explains Dottie. Breaking it down, positive psychology looks at positive events and influences in life, such as: • Positive experiences like joy, love, and inspiration. • Positive traits and states like gratitude, resilience, and compassion. • Applying positive principles within organisations and institutions. The aim is to learn what it is we need in order to thrive and flourish. Having

Good mental wellbeing is at the heart of everything that matters – from our health and relationships, to our decision-making and productivity this knowledge is not only incredibly powerful, it’s inherently needed.


“Two of the biggest challenges facing modern society are mental health issues and loneliness,” Dr Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness tells us. “Good mental wellbeing is at the heart of everything that matters – from our health and relationships, to our decision-making and productivity. Yet anxiety and depression are on the rise, especially for young people.” Continues >>>

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH FINDINGS • Happiness is contagious; those with happy friends and significant others are more likely to be happy in the future. (Fowler & Christakis, 2008) • Gratitude is a big contributor to happiness in life, suggesting that the more we cultivate gratitude, the happier we will be. (Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson, 2005) • Volunteering time to a cause you believe in improves your wellbeing and life satisfaction, and may even reduce symptoms of depression. (Jenkinson et al., 2013) • Spending money on experiences provides a bigger boost to happiness than spending money on material possessions. (Howell and Hill, 2009) • Oxytocin (the so-called “love hormone”) may provoke greater trust, empathy, and morality, meaning that giving hugs, or other shows of physical affection, may give a big boost to your overall wellbeing – and the wellbeing of others. (Barraza and Zak, 2009)

Studying Happiness

Could your relationship be better? 5 ways you could improve your relationship Being in a romantic relationship with another person can be the most wonderful thing, but it can also bring about stress and conflict. A successful relationship requires compromise. Of course, not every day will be romance and rainbows. Sometimes we need to support the other person through a difficult time, or take a moment to make our own wellbeing the priority, and look after ourselves.

Jot down some of the adventures you would like to go on together

Life can get in the way, and our relationships can be affected. Whether you’re in a bit of a rut, or you want to see if your relationship can get any better, here are five ways you could improve your relationship.

Communicate with honesty and say what is true

Be present and offer support when needed

Learn how to lau gh at yourself Have fun – schedule days for adventure and play ‘Show up’ for yo and be there ur partner for them – build trust 28 • happiful • November 2018

Couples counselling isn’t only for those having problems. Sometimes, talking together with a professional can help you understand your partner better, and become even closer and stronger as a couple. To find a couples counsellor near you, visit

Perhaps the learnings we gain from positive psychology could arm us with the tools and knowledge to help us help ourselves Action for Happiness describes itself as “a people-powered movement helping individuals from all walks of life look after their mental wellbeing, and connect with their local communities”. Its aim is to help people learn about how we can thrive, and research in positive psychology is a huge resource to draw on. To us, the Action for Happiness movement, and the rise of positive psychology, is a rallying response to our nation’s growing mental health concerns. Services are stretched, groaning under the weight of our

collective cry for support. Perhaps, among the noise, the learnings we gain from positive psychology could arm us with the tools and knowledge to help us help ourselves. “Since starting my own positive psychology journey, I’ve never felt happier,” explains Dottie. “I appreciate the smallest of moments, I’ve found my flow in dancing, and, importantly, ask for help when I need it. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable, fail, or look silly. I’ve become braver and more self-assured.” As well as supporting those of us who just want to feel happier day-today, positive psychology can be used in a therapeutic setting. Working with those who have experienced trauma, Dottie says positive psychology empowers clients to recognise their strengths and resilience, while also acknowledging their pain, sadness, and suffering. Positive psychology is, of course, not a solution nor an answer to life’s hardships and mental ill-health. No matter how many gratitude journals we fill out, or how much self-compassion we muster, there will be circumstances when mental health simply fails us. This is where traditional psychology and talking therapies rise to the occasion. What positive psychology can offer us, however, is an insight into what it takes to thrive. How we can nurture our own mental wellness, take control, and prevent triggers – like stress – from developing into fully fledged illnesses. And we think that is something worth being positive about.


Dottie Woods shares two exercises she uses with counselling clients for you to try at home: 1. Th  ink of an occasion when a loved one has thrived, and what personal resources they used to do so. List the



Positive psychology encourages us to be proactive when it comes to our mental wellbeing. If you’re ready to make a start, Action for Happiness has a range of resources to help you take that first step: Read… about the researchbased 10-keys to happiness (

Download… the latest monthly action calendar full of daily tasks designed to spread happiness (actionforhappiness. org/calendars) Find… an “Exploring What Matters” eight-week course to delve deeper into the topic and meet like-minded people ( strengths that they brought to the surface. Once you have described the resilience of your loved one, take a moment to do the same task for yourself. It’s often easier to think kindly of loved ones, and this then allows us space to truly acknowledge our own capabilities. 2. L  ook for thrivers and flourishers in your community, the news, and in your life. Ask yourself: what can I learn? Are they really any different to me? Truly open your eyes to the daily thrivers who go about their days simply, and start to look for signs when you, too, have thrived. Dottie Woods is a positive psychology counsellor at Wonderful Life Counselling Consultancy. To learn more about mental health, and find professional support, visit November 2018 • happiful • 29

Happiful Hack

Warning signs of a

depressive episode

Depression is sneaky, often creeping up on you when you least expect it. But it’s also illogical, and can strike us when we’re at our happiest. Being aware of the warning signs to watch out for could be crucial in making sure you get help and support sooner than later


ccording to the NHS, one in 10 of us are affected by depression at some point in our lives, but alongside clinical depression, it can manifest in other forms such as postnatal depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal

30 • happiful • November 2018

Writing | Katie Conibear Illustrating | Rosan Magar

affective disorder. The important thing is to be aware of the warning signs of depression, to get support as soon as possible. As I don’t always realise I’m becoming depressed, I rely on my partner and close family and friends to keep an eye out for the warning

signs. While I’m much better than I used to be at spotting a difference in my mood, I still occasionally miss a change that’s obvious to someone else. Knowing these signs has made me feel more in control of my mental illness, and allows me to take action and seek help before I find myself in crisis.


2 Irritability

You may find yourself losing your temper at the smallest annoyance. Something you would normally brush off, or ignore, now feels incredibly irritating and frustrating. To others, we can be noticeably more difficult to be around, and short tempered. Someone eating too loudly, people walking slowly and taking up the whole pavement, or even not being able to find my hairbrush, are all real-life examples that have left me seething and ready to snap.

3 A change in appetite



1 Feeling tired

Fatigue is one of the first signs of depression; sleep no longer feels refreshing, which leaves you feeling constantly tired and wanting more rest. You may feel like sleeping during the day, or go to bed much earlier than normal. At the opposite extreme, you may experience insomnia, or wake in the early hours of the morning. Tiredness can lead to concentration problems, forgetfulness, and trouble making decisions that can, in turn, impact your work and day-to-day life. Personally, I can feel like I’m walking around in a haze, constantly thinking about when I can finally go to bed.

Your appetite may suddenly change completely; either you want to eat everything in sight, or nothing at all. Since anxiety and depression often coincide, with a high level of anxiety leaving many people feeling nauseous and unable to eat, inevitably depression can lead to weight gain or weight loss – which in turn impacts our self-esteem. Sometimes depression can also cause digestive problems.

4 A lack of motivation

This isn’t just an “off ” day, this is when your motivation disappears for days or weeks on end. As with a lack of concentration, having no “get up and go” often affects your work or studies. It will feel like slogging up an endless mountain to complete a project, or go for that run, or exercise at the gym. For me, my drive and positivity can go out the window – all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch TV.

5 Socialising less

While some of us are social butterflies, and others prefer some personal space, we all enjoy seeing friends and family to some degree. When depressed, we might feel we have nothing to say, or can’t manage being in a social situation. I enjoy going out and socialising, so it’s blatantly obvious that something is wrong when I turn down an invitation, or don’t show up to an event. I’ll feel

a knot in the pit of my stomach at the idea of socialising, but without seeing friends and family we can become isolated and lonely, which causes our mood to negatively spiral even further.

6 No longer enjoying favourite activities

When depressed, often the hobbies that once filled us with pleasure no longer have the same effect, which leaves us with an empty feeling – a common complaint of those with depression. I’m usually a creative person, but I find as depression creeps up on me I have no impetus to paint, sketch, or write. Your relationship with your partner may also change, as many people will lose their interest in sex.

Something you would normally brush off, or ignore, now feels incredibly irritating and frustrating What to do if you think you might be depressed

Depression is not just about being sad, but is a myriad of feelings of helplessness, guilt, and hopelessness that will become progressively worse if you don’t seek help. If you’re worried that you may be depressed, please make an appointment to see your GP. With depression, I find it more difficult than I normally do to express how I’m feeling, and to get my point of view across, so I make notes or bring someone with me. It means you won’t feel rushed and pressured to explain everything. Alongside speaking to your GP, you can visit for more information and to find a support group, or search to find a professional to speak to. November 2018 • happiful • 31

Holding on to Love and Salvation

Photography | Clarisse Meyer


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“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” – Frida Kahlo

Robert’s Story

Waiting to wake from the nightmares After living with schizophrenia from a young age, Robert Bayley speaks with candour and disarming honesty about the challenges of his condition, his experiences of psychosis, and why music has truly helped him


or most of my adult life, I have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I’ve experienced extreme pain and relentless symptoms. I can recall the start of this path when I was a young child. I was left cowering in the corner of a deserted school playground, overwhelmed by voices attacking me for my use of profanities in a classroom exchange. I had been encouraged by a fellow pupil to use expletives for the first time,

and subsequently felt persecuted by God for my failure to resist. The start of my mental decline was provoked by this. The psychosis took hold of me, alienating me more and more. I didn’t feel able to talk about what was happening to me. I couldn’t relate to the world around me, as my reality became increasingly fractured and confused. By the time I reached my teenage years, the tension had multiplied, making my desire to end my life stronger and stronger.

Inevitably, I was hospitalised and sectioned on a secure ward when I was just 16. While on this ward in 1984, I was given powerful anti psychotic medicines which left me drained, and overwhelmed by side effects that stripped me of my sense of identity. I would twitch and shake violently, at times incontinent, as my tongue would swell, saliva dripping to the floor. The worst part was being confined in seclusion. I would curl up on the cell floor, unable Continues >>>

November 2018 • happiful • 33

Holding on to Love and Salvation

Robert’s Story to escape the screaming and hollering of fellow patients haunted by their pasts. Eventually, six weeks after being sectioned, my parents arranged funding for me to be treated in a private hospital – a place where I found solace and empathy. A truly special psychiatrist took over my case, and it was his intervention, and his team, that saved me from certain self-destruction. They carried me during some of the most despairing periods of my life. Schizophrenia is an extreme of the human condition, shrouded in mystery. It is marked by profound misery and isolation, where many of those who are diagnosed are left to cope on their own. Withdrawal from society is commonplace, with those affected often existing on the edge of life itself. This detachment often leads to self-harm and suicide.

Robert uses music to replicate the sounds he hears in his head

34 • happiful • November 2018

Research has revealed that there is more activity in the parts of the brain that assimilate language and vision in a person with schizophrenia than in an individual who is mentally well. For me, daily life is almost constant torment. The voices and visions intrude and disturb me greatly. Terrors wake me during the night, leaving me soaked in a cold sweat, as the visions multiply. The voices I hear are destructive, ordering me to harm myself by pouring boiling water into my eyes, or mutilating myself, and ridiculing me, breaking down my self-confidence. Some of the voices come from various forms of technology, such as televisions or computer screens. They deceive me and force me into a world of crippling paranoia. Transient voices haunt and attack me as I attempt to shower, leaving me shattered and distressed.

The visions are extremely vivid. Paving stones transform into demonic faces. Familiar people become grotesquely deformed, their skin peeling away to reveal decomposing muscles and organs. Inanimate objects take on a life of their own as steel bars are suspended from the ceiling, trapping me in a cage. However, despite this, I strive for some kind of balance, brought about by periods of wild creativity. I have been treated by a succession of wonderful consultants, doctors, nurses, therapists, and social workers. Without their support, my mental decline would have been absolute. Their time, concern, and patience has proved crucial. The advances of anti psychotic medication have also improved my quality of life. The love of my dear wife Gill, who I married in 1992, a wonderful extended family, and loyal friends, keeps me as positive as I can be. I have been transformed from a vulnerable 16-year-old, sectioned under the Mental Health Act, to an individual, now 51, who has created works of literature and music, and studied the visual arts. When experiencing a creative “high”, I enjoy composing music that replicates the sounds I hear in my head. I hear depth to sound, and different layers of percussion, chord arrangements and bass rhythms. I try to capture


Robert and his wife, Gill

I couldn’t relate to the world around me, as my reality became increasingly fractured and confused these melodies, harmonies and rhythms in my recording studio in Northampton. I believe music helps me manage my schizophrenia, and it brings me joy and purpose. My studio facility was financed by the members of Pink Floyd in 1995, and their belief in my capabilities has propelled me forwards. My patches of extreme creativity are, quite literally, a lifeline to me. They provide me with a release from all that confines me. However, when these creative moments disappear, invariably the fallow periods follow. During these times I retreat from the world, as the negative symptoms of the beast that is schizophrenia overwhelm me. My mind and body are exhausted, and rest, or at times sedation, is required. The length of these periods can vary, from days, to weeks, and sometimes months. I feel punished and condemned for my positive actions. There is always a darker side to challenge the power of pure creation. Yet, despite this, I’ve managed to create a rich amount of work that I’m incredibly proud of. For more than 20 years I have campaigned for the mental health charity SANE, releasing three albums, a novel chronicling the

progression of schizophrenia, and various articles on psychosis. My latest creation is a new album of my instrumental compositions, entitled Belief, with all royalties going to help the pivotal work that SANE does to inform, support and research into all aspects of mental illness. Its contribution to removing stigma, and educating society, saves lives. This collection of compositions aims to show that schizophrenia need not constrain creativity. To anyone else experiencing schizophrenia, I say: aspire to great things. Aim high and let your creativity provide a cathartic release to all that torments you. Keep your faith strong and confront with vigour all that challenges. Schizophrenia is a terrible illness, one that ravages the mind and soul. Within just one

minute, my perception of what surrounds me can transform from being carefree to paranoiac bombardment. There is no predictability to my life. So, I live on, holding on to love and salvation, building resolve and commitment for a better life. Perhaps one day, I will wake from the nightmares, and total balance will be attainable. To find out more about Robert and his music search Lunar Shooter on iTunes and Google Play. Learn more about SANE at

Our Expert Says

Robert’s story gives us an insight into the profound difficulties that those with schizophrenia face on a daily basis. The condition varies in symptoms and severity, but Robert’s ability to hold both the truth of his illness, alongside the creative and resourceful aspects of himself, is a message of hope for others with the condition. He lives in the moment, being with whatever his current reality is, and drawing on support when he needs it – something for all of us to consider with our mental health. Fe Robinson | MUCKP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor

November 2018 • happiful • 35

Hussain Manawer | Root of the Pain

Image | Illusions Music

A People’s Poet

‘If you’ve suffered from depression or anxiety, hug me.’ Blindfolded, equipped with just a piece of cardboard, a pen, and those very simple words, in 2015 Londoner Hussain Manawer, 27, took mental health to Oxford Street, in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities. He has since continued to connect with people, either on the streets or by penning an inspiring poem, marking him out as a true mental health hero Writing | Maurice Richmond

Working WORDS

Hi Hussain! What prompted you to carry out the Oxford Street experiment? I am convinced we are all going through things, and I feel like we see so much content these days we’ve become so immune to it. It’s not just about talking, it’s showing people, too. That video connects, it’s relatable. You think: “That could have been my mum, my aunt or my cousin, that could be me.” Did you expect such an outpouring of emotion and engagement? To be honest, I didn’t. Londoners are known to be fast people, who are stuck in their own ways. I did that three years ago, but people still talk about it. I retweeted it the other day, and it got 185,000 views in a week. I am just happy people connect with it and normalises a conversation. It makes people feel like they are not alone; that’s a big factor for me.

Portrait | Kevin Scullion

What was it like for you growing up in east London? Recently, somebody got shot outside my house, on my doorstep. My dad and little sister went outside, saw all the police, and just went back inside and carried on watching their film. It showed how we are so exposed to gun crime, knife crime, acid attacks, they have become so normal. The juxtaposition of where we live and the amount of crime and juvenile behaviour that goes on, it kills the ambition here. Besides that, growing up was fine – I had a good upbringing. When did you start talking openly about mental health? We live opposite a mental health hospital, so we see patients all the time. I would ask my mum: “Why are they getting no visitors” or “Where are their families?” So we would start the conversation. She would say to me: “Certain people there have an illness, and they might not have families, or

they might not be aware of where they are.” I was always inquisitive, and she was my go-to contact. Did you discuss your own mental health with her? When I was at university, I remember telling her I didn’t like being there. I didn’t like paying for it; all my friends were out there living the best time of their lives. I was really depressed, I was in a hole. Just being able to have that conversation was so powerful, because you’re not having to lie; lying is taxing and nobody has time for it. I was able to talk to her about everything.

Since my mum passed away, I wanted our home to be a safe place for us to be able to express how we are feeling Your mum made a big impression on you. Could you describe her influence? Being my mum’s son is my greatest achievement in the world, she was a great lady. She ran a business – not a multi-million pound one. She had a little restaurant, she ran her home, she ran her life, she ran our lives. She was a great woman, everything she left in me taught me a lot. Growing up, my mum and I had a very good relationship. We were able to talk about so many things, even mental health. Being able to chat about that to a Pakistani mum is a big deal, because my culture is known to be quite closed to subjects like that.

of subjects like chemical imbalances and post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia, psychosis. It’s not knowledge that’s taught to everyone. Only at A-level and university do you have a choice of studying psychology, but not many people coming to England would study those courses. They wouldn’t know about these subjects, so they don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s where this new age pressure of social media and social envy is creating a big divide in our homes. Our parents are unable to understand those situations and the problems they are causing. Why do you think men in particular struggle to talk about mental health? Truth be told, I have no idea. I went on a camping trip recently, and I thought we would sit around a fire and talk about how we were feeling. But I was the anomaly in thinking that. I do this line of work, and it’s all I’m around, so it’s quite normal for me – I have become quite disconnected from understanding why men don’t speak about the way they feel. Since my mum passed Continues >>>

Why do you think that is? A lot of ethnic minorities have this lack of knowledge and understanding November 2018 • happiful • 37

Hussain Manawer | Root of the Pain

away, I wanted our home to be a safe place for us to be able to express how we are feeling. Whether it’s by WhatsApp groups or whatever it is, there’s a way for people to talk. What’s the next step? Masculinity is redefining itself – it will take a long time, but it is definitely starting to happen. I think we need to figure out how we get this message out to communities. So many people are stuck in their ways, not being able to talk. I get hundreds of messages from people who don’t have anybody to talk to. I just don’t understand it. In some areas, talk is increasing, but action is missing. How do we change this? I think education is the most powerful tool we can use in this situation. If we are not educated on the subject matter, then how can we comment on it? People throw words out, not really understanding what they are saying. I hear people saying: “I am depressed.” But their definition of depression is feeling sad, not being diagnosed with depression. That takes something away from people who are genuinely feeling this emotion. We all need to be 38 • happiful • November 2018

Image | Illusions Music

We’re all on our phones, we’re so connected with each other, but we’re in a world that’s so disconnected. Look for your own therapy, find it, protect it, grow it, nurture it

educated; the government is trying to put mental health education into the system, but that just places more pressure on teachers. It’s down to us to educate ourselves, our families, our young people. You’ve used poetry to help process your grief after losing your mum; what advice would you give to somebody in a similar position? Don’t fight how you’re feeling. Especially when it comes to grief, let the emotions and cycles be natural. Dealing with the loss of a loved one doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You just have to do what’s right for you, and then find the things out there to help you express yourself – it could be writing for some, poetry for others, or football, swimming, running, drama, whatever it is. That’s what needs to be retaught to us. We’re all on our phones, we’re so connected with each other, but we’re in a world that’s so disconnected. Look for your own therapy, find it, protect it, grow it, nurture it.

Hussain’s poetry show ‘The Root of The Pain’ is headlining Scala, in King’s Cross on Thursday, 29 November. For more information, visit hussain-manawertickets

You’re reading your poetry in front of 1,000 people in November. How does that feel? There’s not a lot of us poets around. Headlining at shows, these were all dreams of mine. It’s just incredible, and I am so grateful. Just as long as I am communicating a real message out to the world, they’ll be able to positively receive it, and hopefully learn from it. We learn from each other, it’s just about passing that knowledge on.

If you could head back in time to talk to yourself as that student at Westminster, who was at a low point, what would you say? I would have told him to write a poetry book; that book would have been gold dust right now. When you are going through those emotions and that pain, you can produce some incredible work. That work will help you and other people – it’s helping me now. When shit hits the fan, I grab my pen.

ll e p s a g in t s a c d Po For many of us, the best way to disconnect from the trials and tribulations of life is by putting on our headphones – and often a podcast does just the trick. With so much variety on offer, covering all aspects of our mental health, we’ve put together five podcasts to help you get started Writing | Maurice Richmond

Icons | iTunes


odcasts are leading the way in what is being described as an “audio renaissance”, with around 4.7 million of us in the UK getting a regular dose of our favourite shows each week. And the health sections of podcast platforms have never been so full of choice, with topics from fitness, to food, to feeling better, readily available. Many options offer a relatable voice, broadening the conversation on mental health. Here are five of our top picks to get you in tune, hooked, and waiting for the next episode.

1. Mentally Yours (, new episodes weekly) This podcast sees the Metro turning the written word into audible and actionable advice. Each week, freelance journalist Yvette Caster and Metro lifestyle editor Ellen Scott chat to a mystery guest, either in or out of the public eye, about the great and the good, and the weird and the wonderful of mental health, featuring real-life experiences. With the breadth of topics covered, it’s highly likely you’ll find something up for discussion that’s impacted either you personally, or a loved one. Duration: 15–40 minutes

2. Mental Health Book Club (Sydney Timmins, new episodes every two days) A podcast celebrating the very best the literary world has to support our mental health. Join writer Sydney Timmins and teacher Becky Lawrence on their journey, as they talk you through the best mental health books, including fiction, memoirs and self-care. Plus, with a new show released every two days, you’ll never find yourself twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next reading recommendations. Duration: 19–95 minutes

3. Absolute Mind (Paula Sweet, archive episodes available) This one acts as your regular appointment with a hypnotherapist, only the timing and the practice fits around your schedule, and can be from the comfort of your own home. Paula has put together more than 160 sessions for you to delve into, helping you to master your emotions through self-help tips, hypnosis, and meditation. The emphasis here is on practical tips and advice for the real-life concerns you may have. Duration: 30–53 minutes



4. I Hear Voices (BBC Radio 1, archive episodes available) The godfathers of podcasting, the BBC, have really excelled themselves by focusing on quality over quantity in this series. Over the course of 11 episodes, this podcast from Radio 1 vividly brings to life the complexities and reality of living with schizophrenia. Featuring a 27-year-old mum called Alice, who profiles her life with the condition, each show is devoted to, and named after, a person she hears in her head. While each episode is quite short, its impact will stay with you for a long time. Duration: 1–7 minutes

5. The Struggle Bus: Self-Care, Mental Health and Other Hilarious Stuff (Sally Tamarkin and Katharine Heller, new episodes available on variable basis) From across the pond comes this podcast, where friends Sally Tamarkin and Katharine Heller answer all your mental health questions – and no topic is off the table. Whether it’s family, work, love or “sobbing your way through a therapist session”, Katharine and Sally are the impartial friends there to help you share the experience, and the load. Release dates of each show keep you on your toes; some are a week apart, while others are just shy of a month. Duration: 23–80 minutes

All podcasts featured are available on iTunes November 2018 • happiful • 39

Photography | Clare Richardson


s g n i n n i g e B Eleven years ago, Kate Humble discovered a passion for daily walks after relocating to rural Wales. As she releases her new book, ‘Thinking on My Feet’, the TV presenter explains how putting one foot in front of the other is nature’s own therapy…


s I ride the bus across Waterloo Bridge, London, to meet Kate Humble at her publisher’s riverside HQ, I’m feeling guilty. It’s less than nine hours since I put down Kate’s book Thinking On My Feet, a read dubbed “enticing” by the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – a verdict with which I agree. The book tells the story of the TV presenter’s walking year, a narrative of her favourite walks – many near her home in the Wye Valley, Wales – and her feelings throughout. In Kate’s words, it’s a celebration of “the simple, fundamental act of walking, the remarkable effect it has on our minds and bodies”. So why, with just one and a half miles to travel to our meeting, am I on the 172? I should have got up earlier, should have caught an earlier train to London, should have resisted the idle route. “All the medical advice says we should walk more, but as soon as

Writing | Gemma Calvert

you put ‘should’ into a sentence, you find yourself instantly rebelling,” smiles Kate who, having greeted me with coffee and coconut biscuits, has hushed my admission of laziness with kind empathy. Born and raised in Bray, Berkshire, she spent 20 years on the London treadmill, before jumping off 11 years ago and relocating to Wales with her husband, Ludo Graham. “In London, most days would start with a walk, but it would be a frantic rush to the tube or bus,” recalls Kate. “Now, when I come back to London, I shape my day so that I have a walk first thing, that isn’t just about going to the bus. It’s conscious ‘me time’ – a little present to myself. Rather than go out at lunchtime and think ‘my treat is to buy a lipstick’, my treat is to give myself 15 minutes of wandering. Whatever it is you enjoy – walking, painting, sewing or cooking – it’s about giving yourself time for a little bit of mindfulness in your day, where

you can think about yourself, and where you’re at emotionally.” For Kate, walking comes as naturally as breathing. Every day, come rain or shine, after tending to the animals on her working farm, she heads out with her dogs Badger, Bella and Teg, for an hour-long stomp in the countryside. “There is something really wonderful about being part of the world when it’s waking up, and being the first person to put footprints across the dew, there’s something deeply therapeutic about the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other,” she explains. “My brain quietly wakes up. I can almost hear my synapses crackling when I walk. Then, whether I’m rushing off for work or sitting in front of my computer, I feel a little bit exercised, and so my endorphins have woken up. It puts me into a good frame of mind.” During research for her book, Kate consulted with neuroscientist Susan Continues >>>

Walk This Way

Greenfield, author of A Day in the Life of the Brain, who confirmed that walking in natural environments has profound mental benefits. “What walking does to the brain, to your ability to be able to concentrate, your attention span – it is good for us,” insists Kate, pointing out the creative benefits of conducting work meetings and school lessons in the great outdoors. “If you’re trying to come up with a creative solution to something, do it on foot. If I was the Education Secretary, things would change. Think about how stultifying it is being within four walls when you’re a young mind. Young brains should be learning outside. They’d remember everything because their attention spans would be fired up.” The same goes for therapy. Like Freud, who analysed many of his clients while pounding Vienna’s pavements, a growing number of therapists believe in the combined power of walking and talking. Not only does physical exercise release oxytocin, the stress-busting hormone, but apparently being outside promotes more expansive thinking. Towards the end of the book, Kate travels to New York to meet Kentucky-born psychotherapist Clay Cockrell, who runs the majority of his therapy sessions from pathways around Central Park. “Clay says that if you’re walking, it’s a very non-confrontational way of having a conversation – you don’t have to look someone in the eye, you can have very natural pauses, and talk about personal things without feeling judged,” says Kate. “When you’re face to face with someone you can get terribly self-conscious, but not if you’re talking in neutral territory.” While Kate has never sought therapy herself (“I count myself extremely lucky”), she admits she is prone to anxiety, especially when she feels her 42 • happiful • November 2018

‘He made me realise that every human, even when they’ve got to the lowest depths, has the capacity to find something to make them smile again’

Nature’s GIFTS

Photography | Clare Richardson

true “self ” is being compromised. One memorable occasion was in 2009 during a meeting at the BBC to discuss an invitation to compete in Strictly Come Dancing. “The minute I sat down, my palms broke out in a sweat at the thought of the make up and frocks. I was a knot of anxiety,” recalls Kate. “I’m quite selfaware. I understand things that make me miserable or uncomfortable: big gatherings of people, or if I need to be very formally dressed. I know what my limitations are. “There will always be something in life that makes me anxious, nervous, or just plain unhappy – that is part of life. The problem with modern life is we never have time to put anything into perspective, to take a step back and reflect from a slight distance.” For Kate, that perspective is often achieved in the fresh air. “Often by walking, I can pinpoint the root of that anxiety and that won’t immediately cure it but, my god, it helps because you feel more in control. Because I’ve been able to get rid of all the extraneous stuff and recognise it, I can now start to deal with it.”

...there’s something deeply therapeutic about the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other One of the most moving stories in Kate’s book is that of Sam Doyle, a former soldier from Rossendale, Lancashire, who was left with PTSD after a tour of Afghanistan at the age of 21. He turned to drink and drugs, attempted suicide three times, and in 2017 decided to start again, by walking the entire British mainland coastline.

“For the first month he hated every day,” says Kate. “He said the walking was like a self-inflicted punishment, and he wanted drugs, but he kept going. Gradually, he met people along the way who wanted to know his story, and a charity called PTSD Resolution asked him to walk to raise money for them. We all need a reason to get up in the morning, and suddenly Sam had a really good one. By month three, walking had become a joy.” A few weeks before we meet, Kate reached out to Sam to share her news that Thinking On My Feet was almost complete. She discovered that after backpacking for almost a year, he has hung up his walking boots and is living in Argyleshire, Scotland, with his girlfriend, who is expecting a baby. “Sam is one of the most inspiring young men I’ve ever met. He made me realise that every human, even when they’ve got to the lowest depths, has the capacity – if they have the gumption – to find something to make them smile again. It took Sam months, but he found it.” Last year Kate had her own personal triumph: hiking alone for nine days, covering 150 miles through the Wye Valley – a walking challenge that her friend Sir David Attenborough accomplished some 74 years ago with a companion. “When I finished the book, I sent [David] an uncorrected proof and he wrote back saying: ‘I suspect I’m going to feel a little bit inadequate reading it, because I don’t think I could have done it on my own,’” says Kate. “What nonsense. That man can do anything!” During her one-woman trial, which nearly ended prematurely on day three because of crippling blisters on her feet, Kate relished feeling selfsufficient, but says walking alone never makes her feel lonely. “Solitude is very different to loneliness, because you choose

KATE’S TOP 3 THERAPY WALKS The seaside in winter A wild, winter coastal walk is so invigorating; it’s fantastic therapy. The worse the weather, the better the walk. There’s something wonderfully liberating about being silly and every part of your unbelievably sensible, adult brain will tell you: ‘It’s pissing with rain, it’s blowing a hooley, there’s no way I’m going for a walk by the sea.’ But if you wrap up in the right kit and go out, you’ll come back with that lovely glowing nose, and can eat as much toast and Marmite as you like. A climb There’s something incredible about a challenge and getting your heart rate up – you don’t have to climb a mountain. I was talking to a friend who climbed some steps in a residential part of Greenwich, and could see right across the whole of London. That’s why trig points – little trigonometry points, usually on the tops of hills – are a great thing to aim for. When you get to the top, whatever the weather, you get a different perspective on the world than you do at the bottom, and you’ve got a wonderful sense of achievement. Dawn There’s something absolutely magical about getting up just before sunrise and walking as the sun comes up. Being witness to the start of the day is just lovely. And the best bit? You can do this wherever you are.

solitude. For me, walking emboldens me for the day, it makes me feel more robust. I get time to myself to work out who I am and what I think. It’s that idea of strapping on your identity again.” As I bid Kate farewell and step out on to London’s Embankment, I button up my coat and begin to walk. The 172 can wait.

‘Thinking On My Feet’, by Kate Humble, is published by Aster (£20, hardback) November 2018 • happiful • 43

Learning to Accept

Photography | Hian Oliveira

MAKE TIME FOR FJAKA “Fjaka” is the Croatian concept of slowing down, enjoying the stillness, and doing nothing 44 • happiful • December 2018

Jasraj’s Story Danielleʼs Story

Challenging my negative thoughts In search of my lost identity


After a lifetime of feeling like an outsider, with body confidence issues, and developing an online addiction, After being diagnosed with breast in 2013, Jasraj dropped out of university and cancer found himself onDanielle a path Simpson had more than just her health and illness to that wasn’t fulfilling. But in eventually admitting he needed contend as shevarious had to forms leave behind the he’s adventurous help, and with, discovering of support, finally life and career she loved Dubai for positivity treatment at home in understood his needs and in found some

the UK. Life after cancer may have had anxiety and grief, wish my mental health story expect who was who. But I schoolher probably played a part. but Danielle hasand learned to appreciate ‘new normal’

was this perfect narrative with clear 2013, start, middle and t wasaApril and I’d been end. livingUnfortunately, in the Middlemental East health doesn’t like that. with my familywork for seven So years, whereworking to begin?as a feature I had thought I was aIfnormal and travel writer. I wasn’t kid withabout a pretty writing theprivileged region, I was upbringing, no reason to interviewingand artists, designers, be unwell. I had always been musicians or film-makers. But sensitive, and that day I timid was off to reserved, interview a but when I came out of my plastic surgeon. shell, I seemed like any normal, The surgeon, I’d been assured, functioning Schoolwoman had was the best.child. A beautiful largely been a place of comfort in her 30s, immaculately made for knewmonths what to up, me, and where at leastI eight pregnant, took me into her

struggled with direction as school got “serious”, and itthrough felt likeimage I had office and swiped to make decisions after image on her (A-levels iPad, of and University) that would breasts she’d enhanced. set If Ime wason this seemingly unalterable path. interested, I should speak to her When a number new on students receptionist aboutofcosts the joined in Sixth Form – new way out. people, faces who a I left. Anew bitter taste in seemed my lot older and cooler than me – I mouth. I wasn’t there to conduct felt like a complete outsider. a magazine interview; I was there I lacked a lot of confidence to talk about breast cancer. inFour myself, myearlier, body, and the 10 weeks Sunday opposite sex. I’My familial March 2013, d put in my diary: upbringing (I’m a British-born Mother’s Day. Nephew’s seventh Indian) all-boys secondary birthday.and Doctor’s appointment 1.30pm.

I was this short, skinny brown kid who constantly told how “Tell mewas very quickly. Then tell unhealthy I looked, and how I me very slowly.” I said. needed eat more folks who “Breasttocancer, ” shebysaid. didn’t mean to be malicious, but Breast cancer. whose comments slowly ate away The next four Sundays (being at myday already-questionable first of the week in the levels of self-esteem. Middle East) after each new set of and my uncles ofOne scans tests, I dragged was backme in along to the gym and showed my GP’s office for the results. me thewhen ropesIof weight-training Then, thought it could get around this time, and socompany began no worse, the insurance asaid period bulkingpay with theyof wouldn’t forone my goal in mind: to get bigger. At was treatment, and the oncologist one point, I was eating six to away the day she was meant to Continues give me my treatment plan. >>> Continues >>>

December 2018 • happiful • 45 November

Accepting Learning tothe Accept New Me

Jasraj’s Story Danielleʼs Story eight meals a day to put weight on. Body-image in men is an issue for sure and, with the likes of Instagram, men’s health magazines, and celebrity-culture, I feel it is only getting worse. When I went to university, I felt even more like a fish out of water – lost, alone, and younger than ever. I definitely didn’t find “Which breast is it?” asked her “my people” there – probably replacement. because I hadn’t fully embraced “Ifperson you don’t know, I’lltime. wait till the I was at the oncologist is back,and ” I said. Imy missed the familiar safe “You’re making me nervous, surroundings of home, and I ” she said. didn’t know why I was doing “You’re making us nervous, the courses I’d chosen – full ” said my husband, disclosure: I endedTony. up dropping Shetwice. glanced at a piece of paper out on her desk. I ended up hanging around “Double mastectomy, said with a group of people”I she shared and sent on Imy tear-stained halls with,me who didn’t have way toin discuss my options with much common with; friends thecircumstance, plastic surgeon. by if you like. I’d second opinion in theI needed UK goAout, drink more than seemed like a good idea. and wanted to, and spend the “The Dubai is 20 next day holedtreatment up in myplan room, years out of date,” I was told. unhappy. A no-brainer. Within three During my teens, I had weeks I returned to England to developed an online addiction, start my treatment, and with my life beginning innocuously overseas came abruptly to an MSN Messenger and chat end. Days filledthe withconnection a career I’d rooms, seeking loved, and caring online for my Ifamily and relationships had (forwanted I had to them so inleave real life, butbehind didn’t too – one know howdaughter to attain.finishing AS levels, other heratSATs, This onlythe continued my husband on a contract in university. I thought at some Qatar,through my son at university point going out andin the UK), desert-life, sun, drinking stuff with theadventure, “opposite were,would overnight, replacedInbyshort, sex” just happen.

not a lot did happen. So I’d come home drunk and jump onto the computer, compensating for what I was missing out on in real-life. It became both addictive behaviour, and an avoidance strategy for what was happening in real-life.

I’m alive, and that’s what counts. But I don’t look the same, feel the same, or function the same. I lost my identity and the life that I knew. And moving on has proved a challenge

hospital appointments and a new as the sickly daughter Iexistence was constantly back in the parental home. told unhealthy After ahow few challenging months, family joined me. Ahow year of Imylooked, and followed by a year of Itreatment, needed to eat recovery. Then three more to more of of an try to slotlevels back the pieces interrupted life. Today, the pieces self-esteem are in place, just not as well fitting as before. At time, I’mthe alive, andI was that’shardly what counts. eating. I was wasting away.feel It But I don’t look the same, was another to suppress the same, or way function the same. I my A couple of life friends lost feelings. my identity and the that I staying in my halls would knew. And moving on has proved knock on my door, and I’d just a challenge. lieAtthere physically first,motionless, I couldn’t think about and mentally exhausted. Behind our time in the UAE. If anyone closed crumbling referreddoors, to ourI was life then, fear, and self-destructing. distress and sadness were Having dropped triggered intensely.out If Iofdidn’t university, I found myself talk about it, or walked out of working recruitment. the roominwhen they did,While I could Imanage loved meeting and and connecting the present not dwell with people, on the past. the commute and hours were long,are and it wasn’t But memories wayward long before the job things, and you can’tbecame walk out of exhausting unfulfilling. every room.and Photos would pop up I handed in my notice on my screensaver. Me inthe Dubai day received confirmation to withIlovely, long before-cancer

[BC] studycurly a year-long hair. Me Masters with the at the University EastILondon in Jessica Biel of fringe cut in, before diagnosis. 2015, and IInalso casebegan that lump a careerwas changers’ withtoEscape cancer. In course case I had have chemo. The CityMe (anwith online the community ugly buzz cut in to the inspire UK.people The month-by-month to do the work they love)oftopost-chemo figure out what it charting it-doesn’tdo-what-it-used-to was I really wanted hair. to do. The trouble I couldwas, alsowith havelectures stoppedat looking in only the mirror the scars, university every 3atweeks, I the hadedited a lot ofboobs, alone-time. the tattooed Oh, and black by the hospital there’sdots alsomade no single answer to to accurately the radiotherapy what you’retarget supposed to be doing treatment. But that seemed a step with your life. too Onfar. top of everything else, I found I could myself eat differently, in this existential to try to resolve the new dodgy digestive angst, what is sometimes referred system to chemo. I could to as thethanks “quarter-life crisis”. I drink trylonely to ignore foundless, myself andthe isolated overactive bladder again, just like I hadcourtesy felt bothof Tamoxifen. times at university, with all sorts could appreciate aspects ofI thoughts cropping up andof our new life. The countryside, tumbling around inside my head. seasons, London,my living with in my After finishing Masters husband not just late 2016,full-time ironicallyagain, in positive weekends asIwe’ done inmajor the psychology, hitdanother Middle East. I was thankful for the pilates teacher who helped

Non eum faciatur, cuscili tassequi ulpa de eum esti re pro et doluptur? Danielle felt she’d lost her identity when she had to leave her life in Dubai, to return to the UK for treatment

December 2018 46 • happiful • November

If you are feeling lost and alone at university, there are many places you can turn for support. Speak to your personal tutor, or visit the wellbeing section of your university’s website. Alternatively, visit

Ga. Menihil iandit invende rorum, explaccus quam autem fugitaq


Danielle and her husband, Tony

low-point. It was theAnd firstthe time me regain strength. my family had seen me like this, outstanding hospital psychologist now roof as opposed who under helpedtheir me make sense of to my cancer. university halls. I felt lifeinafter I treasured the very energy, and mood. NHSlow andon loved my friends. And At mum’s I reflect every nightinsistence, I made myself eventually succumbed and went on three things I was grateful for to seeday, a psychiatrist into December that even if I had scrape 2016. I wasand given diagnosis the barrel digavery deep. of depression andon” anxiety, but it But “moving still proved took several monthsall forthe metactics, to elusive. For, despite acknowledge accept it. As anxiety struck.and First a ripple. far as Iwaves. was concerned, I hadn’t Then Finally a tsunami been suicidal or self-harmed, so of constant terror that the cancer surely must I wasn’t wouldthat return. Inmean the end it made unwell? sense (toBut methrough at least)therapy, to explore antidepressants, and observing worst-case scenarios, and exist as similar traits in the if I still personality had it. various patients in group therapy, Exhausted, I knew I couldn’t Icarry eventually it. had to be on likeaccepted this. There also had individual therapy, aIsolution. and wasa also exposed to art After considerable amount therapy forI the first time. As of misery, tried cognitive an outlet for therapy; self-expression, Ia behavioural it helped was to work through some– Found a new counsellor long-stifled and both she helped aemotions, lot. And upped the anger and It felt exercise – tears pilatesemerged. twice a week, like those emotions needed to dance once a week, walking come every out. day. It calmed my mind. I Since 2016, I have begun stopped investigating each ache implementing things in daily and pain, and attempted to focus life to helpother manage on things thanmy mymental health. health. I am pleased sayofIone But my brain, now to free probably in thehad bestspace placeto I have type of clutter, been in for manyunresolved years. Yogaissue. has explore another helped massively My lost identity.with my body image, other things. I Whenamongst we moved to the Middle am love andinaccept East,learning for the to first time my life, myself, bethat kindI to myself. I landedand a job loved, that still get creeping I Icould dothoughts well. I evolved intoin – especially thingsof. seem to be someone Iwhen was proud

But, now, in the where “going well”back – which myUK, therapist I hadisno as a writer, I felt says myform saboteur coming into like I’When d beenthis dumped in another play. happens, instead of person’s life no way to get avoiding it atwith all costs, I put it down back to my on paper to own. get it out in the open, Giving up anxiety all well and and challenge those was thoughts. good, but now IIwas consumed The challenge initially had with withmental grief. Fed up was withthat feeling so my health I failed wretched, a sliver of the old mewas to put a finger on exactly what And I confronted my memories, said: “Get outfor theme, house just I going wrong andand so what embarking on View From A Broad do anything. ” on. It was a mix of needed to work – a blog about my time in the Initially,esteem, I wentlack down low-self of the direction, Middle East. volunteer route.and Then, on athings roll, high sensitivity, other know haveyears a wide range of tools Now,I five since diagnosis, appliedtofor job,energy. because linked mya paid general at my disposal. And that’s really my normal is a new normal. not contributing was Connection andfinancially strong social reassuring. Having cancer and having to also adding toare thereally feelings of relationships important Perhaps my the home, most important my work, thing my worthlessness. to me – and yet I am also someone abandon is the mindset that I a mental – tested me to Notcraves a writing Not a job who my job. downtime to that I friends – my life BC have health, and one needs to has be the limit. But thethat experience loved. But and a jobsononetheless. And re-charge, it’s a balance. looked after and nourished just also strengthened my resilience,like I regained some confidence. Islowly, am a lot more conscious now my physical health. given me a better understanding of A year later, I left that job,to,gave about who I give my time have You makes can find more what meout tick, andabout taught me myself a deadline to complete the confidence to do the thingsthe I Jasraj at to be kinder to myself. I am not the rewrites of my want to do, notfirst just novel, what Iand feel I’m same person I was before, but I am this newer, to bolder “expected” do. me (not the beginning to accept the new me. BC me, but someone closer) It’sbold a work-in-progress as always Our Expert Says set up with but, onmeetings the whole, I’mmagazine managing To read Danielle’sUptatur? blog, visit editors. I started writing for well. After a couple of years Ereped quo duntibus solorit Waitrose Weekend on-and-off therapy,Newspaper. I’m soon going doloratem non to be ending this latest course, corumquia dest, sit hopefully for the long-term, aliscillatem faces ut oditasitem ant. Ourknowing Expert though thatSays it is always Odi aut eum reicillabo. Expernam sit a resource there for me todid usenot if only havevoluptiis Danielle cancerearis to contend she earita si siwith, soluptae. also lost her home, job, for a time her family, and in I need it. I have a list of “happy Ut eaque nonsequam dolorepta the diciur, comnia nost, her nobis dolupta It extended treatment and recovery period, identity. habits”, ranging from getting speliaacceptance simagnate voluptint et offictur is not surprising that fi nding and exploring enough sleep, through to carving res volupit elique maios velibuscium her new normal has taken time; her commitment to ameni ut earum acia volest aut reniet outhealing space for down-time which is evident in her exploration of her anxiety, and the grief mo et volore comnis experumquam I know, as long as am leaning underpinning it. ICancer can be life-changing, cant ium amprovoking coreces est,signifi cum velluptatur, into, will keep me in a good tem velestorepre erit fugitatur losses, and opening up to those feelings can be very diffi cult, butacilica boresto inctas explabori dolorib Danielle teaches us that, in time, healing is possible. place. Whether it’s medication, Fe Robinson (reg) MBACP (reg) therapy or changes to my lifestyle/ Fe Robinson |psychotherapist MUCKP| MUCKP (reg) MBACP (reg) and clinical supervisor mindset, the important thing is I psychotherapist and clinical supervisor

December November 2018 2018 •• happiful happiful •• 47 47


Self-Care Corner

'The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health' – this is the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of self-care. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t sound all that scary or complicated. But in reality, prioritising our own wellbeing can often fall by the wayside when we’re busy living, juggling responsibilities, or simply feel selfish doing so. Something we can’t stress enough though, is that taking care of yourself benefits everyone. This month, why don’t you give it a try, and recognise how worthwhile spending some time on yourself truly is...

FEEL THE LOVE: Want to interact and connect with others who might relate to how you’re feeling? There are so many communities and groups out there you can get involved in: Online: Men’s Minds Matter is a site dedicated to providing men with advice and information to encourage those in need to seek psychological help, and build emotional resilience. ( Blog: Jamie Day blogs his experiences of parenthood and mental health on A Day in the Life Dad. The award-winning blogger has also ventured into podcasting, with his Man Talk show supporting CALM charity, looking to normalise the conversation around men’s mental health. ( Podcast: With his personal experience of depression, Mike started writing and speaking about mental health because it felt therapeutic to him. Now he not only has his blog, Mike’s Open Journal, he also runs his MOJO podcast, featuring a wealth of guests discussing all things mental health. (mikesopenjournal. com/podcast)

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us

– Henry Stanley Haskins

Local groups: Andy’s Man Club is a charity looking to provide a safe space for men to meet up and talk about what they’re going through. With groups meeting all over the country, find and join one near you at and know #ITSOKAYTOTALK

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what – Malcolm S Forbes they are HAPPIFUL COMMUNITY It’s good to talk – but only if you want to Jake Mills, CEO of Chasing the Stigma and creator of The Hub of Hope, shares his thoughts: Nowadays, we’re all encouraged to join “the conversation” about mental health. We’re told we’re doing it for our own good and the good of others, to help banish stigma. But it’s important to remember two things: one, once you’ve opened up you’re not obliged to keep doing so; and two, take time after talking to look after yourself. I’ve been speaking publicly about my depression and suicide attempt five years ago since 2014. I have been probed about my deepest and darkest moments: “Why did you feel suicidal?”, “What about your parents?”, “What did it feel like?” – only for people to

move on with their day with barely a thought about the impact their questions have. I have opened up to benefit others, not myself, and sent myself into a downwards spiral. It took me a long time to realise that I don’t have to talk. Then I had to learn how to manage it. Now, when I don’t feel up to talking about my mental health, I’ve developed a series of phrases and gestures. If I tell my wife that I’m doing “the thing” it means my anxiety is high and I’m close to a panic attack. Codes allow me to offer reassurance that I’m fine, but need some down-time where I don’t discuss my experiences. After I’ve opened up, I give myself a window of “recovery” time. I might switch off social media for a while and refocus myself by doing something I love – usually going for a run, absorbing myself in a Netflix series, or listening to


Feeling overwhelmed


Changes in your appetite


Getting irritated/annoyed more easily


Difficulty sleeping


Changes in libido

Bruce Springsteen – who seems to understand my emotions better than I understand them myself. This applies to anyone who has opened up about their mental health. You must remember that you come first. You don’t have to answer things that make you feel uncomfortable. Talking about your mental health has to benefit your mental health first and foremost, not damage it. There is no shame in putting yourself first. Find mental health support near you using the Hub of Hope ( available online, on Google Play and the App Store.

Happiful Hack



+2 5

The importance of play It’s time to take inspiration from children – let your imagination run wild and start taking playtime seriously. It could do your mind and body the world of good!


s the mother of a twoyear-old, I spend a lot of time with small children and, while I’ve been busy teaching my daughter all the little life skills that I think she’ll

50 • happiful • November 2018

Writing | Victoria Pickett Illustrating | Rosan Magar

need, she and her friends have been – inadvertently – reminding me how to play, and the value of doing so. Once the most natural of impulses, many of us lose our playfulness as our heads, and days, get filled with

work, responsibilities, and the stresses of adulthood. But, far from being frivolous and childish, making room for a bit of playtime can have a positive impact on your mind and body, no matter what your age.


1 Curiouser and curiouser…

The United Nations Commission for Human Rights has recognised play as the right of every child, and many psychologists agree that it’s vital for personal development and learning. In a famous 1972 study, Rosenzweig, Bennett and Diamond found that rats who had been kept in a stimulating environment, in which they were able to play, had vastly improved neurological growth, when compared to rats who had been kept in a non-stimulating environment. The implication is that, for humans too, remaining interested, excited, and engaged with our surroundings, is crucial for neurological and psychological welfare. Stay curious and your brain will thank you for it!

2 Think like a toddler

There’s nothing quite like the wideeyed wonder of childhood and, while it’s impossible to recapture our youth, it’s entirely possible to retain some of its openness. As we grow older, we settle into habits, and it can be tempting to avoid new situations or to approach them with caution, mentally running through a series of “worst case scenarios”. Free of these behavioural prejudices, my toddler greets new opportunities with enthusiasm. Rather than wasting energy on worrying, she embraces all the experience has to offer – good or bad! Scientists have proven that trying new things can promote the creation of connections in the brain, and cause a rush of dopamine – the reward chemical. A decline in dopamine has been associated with an ageing brain, as well as several agerelated diseases. So, take the plunge, try something different and it can, quite literally, expand your mind!

3 Dream a little dream

As a child, I spent many happy hours, totally immersed in a land of make-believe and, if I’m honest,

5 Practically perfect

I’ve never entirely grown out of it. Imaginative play is a valuable tool that enables us to work through challenges and scenarios before we’re actually confronted by them. If you’ve ever indulged in a daydream, or discussed a situation’s ideal outcome with a friend or partner, you’ve really been playing grownup “let’s pretend”. It doesn’t matter how likely or unlikely the situation in question may be, what counts is that you’re using your brain to calculate and create possibilities, thus strengthening and establishing neural pathways and connections. Children who participate in imaginary play are practising problem-solving, reasoning, selfregulation, and sociability. So all that fantasising out of the window at work may not be quite so fruitless after all!

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and ‘snap!’ – the job’s a game.” So sang Julie Andrews in the Disney adaptation of Mary Poppins, and it’s true – children find fun in the most unexpected places. And there’s no reason why we can’t continue to do so throughout our lives. Of course, we have to take our responsibilities seriously, and there are certainly some activities that are truly devoid of joy. But next time you’re feeling jaded by routine, or bored by your circumstances, try “finding the fun”. You don’t necessarily need to set aside specific time to play in order to feel the benefits, you can simply adjust the way you approach your everyday tasks.

4 It’s not a competition!

As adults, our play tends to be competitive. This, in itself, isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to invest in non-competitive play, too. Truly noncompetitive play is undertaken solely for its own sake, and there’s something refreshing about performing an activity purely for enjoyment. Savouring a soak in a bath, going for a walk, or whiling away a few hours with a much-loved pet may feel indulgent, but dedicating time to your own amusement not only lifts your mood, it can also lower blood pressure and relieve stress.

Take the plunge, try something different and it can, quite literally, expand your mind So, whether you play alone, with a friend, or in a team, allowing yourself to let go and lark about is a valuable skill and, like all skills, it gets easier with practice. Go on, abandon the rulebook, let your hair down and start to take play seriously!


5 November 2018 • happiful • 51

Trolling Technology

Before bed: worry journal If worries are keeping you up at night, try answering these journaling prompts before hitting the hay you to feel r head out and on to paper can help Getting the thoughts swir ling round you ble to drop off, time you find yourself lying awake, una t nex The . trol con in re mo and er calm try answering the following:

• What am I worried about?

• What can I do about the situation?

• What can’t I do about the situation?

• What is my plan of action?

plan to do is enough to stop Sometimes just writing down what you you’ll realise that there isn’t your mind from whirring. Other times, r reaction and let the worry go. anything you can do, except control you

52 • happiful • November 2018

If struggling to sleep is a nightly occurrence, you may want to explore hypnotherapy for insomnia. Learn more and find a hypnotherapist at

Uncovering the

Cyberbullying crisis

What is cyberbullying?

With two in five young people reporting a personal experience with digital bullying, an overwhelming 83% feel social media companies aren’t doing enough to stop it. Do you know the signs to look out for, or the lasting impact cyberbullying can have? Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford


hen we hear the word bullying, our first thoughts often turn to the physical or verbal forms that we may see in schools or the workplace. While bullying in the traditional sense remains the most prevalent type, cyberbullying has become not only more common, but is having an even bigger impact than we may realise.

With the ability to reach a wider audience at any time, anywhere, bullying through texts, apps, social media, and in-game chats, has the potential to take bullying from external locations and into our homes – in fact, anywhere there’s an internet connection. Teens have reported feeling the pressure to respond, update, and be available constantly online. Cyberbullying can add new levels of stress, anxiety, and fear.

Cyberbullying can include any form of electronic or digital communication that is used to bully someone. This can range from private or public messages on social media, to group chats via apps, pages dedicated to criticising someone, intimidating or threatening messages, spreading false rumours or vicious photos. While social media can offer a number of social and emotional benefits, helping us to connect with friends, encouraging creativity and self-expression, it can also be a place where people can be targeted. A persistent, permanent, and hard to notice form of bullying, it can reach its victims anytime, anywhere. For many, it can go on to affect their everyday lives, as a constant source of worry and stress. Although social media companies have methods in place to report harassment, many young users express concern over the lack of feedback and the general perception that bullying behaviours seem to go unpunished online. In many cases, children and teens remain unclear of their digital rights, responsibilities, and where they can turn for help. Continues >>> November 2018 • happiful • 53

Trolling Technology

Why do people cyberbully? “In order to understand why so many people cyberbully, we must understand what the internet provides to its users – a perception of a safe space, detached from physical identity,” counsellor and psychologist Philip Karahassan explains. “It’s an opportunity to create a separate identity to act exactly how you want, without any perceived consequences. “People feel justified to troll and cyberbully, because it allows your voice to be heard, and to feel validated and powerful when you might not in the physical world. “Cyberbullying offers an escape from pressure, without feeling the consequences of doing so. When the virtual and physical worlds collide, such as the case of Brenda Leyland who completed suicide after her abusive tweets were exposed by the media, you can see the ramifications of those actions, and for some, it is too much to bear.”

Signs to look out for If you’re concerned a friend or loved one may be the victim of cyberbullying, watch out for: • Low self-esteem • Withdrawal from family or increased time spent alone • A new reluctance to let others near their mobile, laptop, or tablet • Finding excuses to stay away from school, work, or a sudden loss of interest in hobbies • Changes in their appearance, weight, or personality 54 • happiful • November 2018

60% of people have witnessed others being harassed or bullied online

How common is it? The Safety Net Report, carried out by YoungMinds charity and The Children’s Society between March and August 2017, looked into the impact of cyberbullying on children and young people’s mental health. More than 1,000 participants aged 11–25 shared their online experiences, revealing startling results. More than 60% admitted to having their first social media account by the age of 12, with 44% spending three hours or more each day on social media sites alone. Almost half of respondents had personally experienced threatening, intimidating, or nasty messages through social media, email or text, with almost 40% of people saying they had a personal experience with online bullying. Of those who had been cyberbullied, 27% had experienced this within the past year. A further 60% had witnessed

others being harassed or bullied online, while almost 40% found social media had negatively impacted how they feel about themselves. An overwhelming 83% felt that social media companies should be doing more to tackle cyberbullying. With more and more children and teens accessing social media earlier, and using these platforms for longer, the risk of encountering cyberbullying is greater than ever.


The personal impact Bullied from a young age, Freddie Cocker, the founder of Vent, a website offering men and boys a safe space to discuss mental health issues openly online, shares the impact cyberbullying had on him: “I first experienced cyberbullying in Year 11. I came back from a family holiday to find that someone had created a Facebook page about me. They put an embarrassing picture of me online, and invited my entire year to like the page. “When I went to check my notifications, I had to scroll through a long list of comments – including some from people who I thought were my friends. Remarks ranged from outwardly mocking to horrifically vicious. Not one person on the page defended me. “My year group had a pack mentality, and if I’d shown any sign that the page affected me, they would have emotionally exploited me even more. I put on a mask to cover the pain. Knowing that all of my paranoia, anxiety and pain was borne

An overwhelming 83% felt that social media companies should be doing more to tackle cyberbullying

‘The only positive about being bullied in school was that at 3.30pm, most days it stopped. Cyberbullying meant the pain never stopped’ out of a genuine hatred of me for just being myself, was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. “I thought feeling this way was normal, that being victimised was something you had to go through as some sort of warped rite of passage. Worst of all, I thought that being bullied was my own fault. “The only positive about being bullied in school was that at 3.30pm, most days it stopped. Cyberbullying meant the pain never stopped. I went from a highly extroverted, friendly, and loving teenager to an introverted, isolated and emotionally broken person, believing that I was incapable of being loved, having friends, or achieving anything in life. “Even now, I still get anxious when someone tags me in a photo after a night out, or I get a Facebook notification. It’s very hard for me to talk positively about myself without flashbacks to those comments, all those years ago. “As technology evolves, support networks have to adapt. Schools are a lot better at dealing with cyberbullying now, but there’s still a long way to go. There needs to be more education on how to navigate the world of social media, and what to do if you’re being cyberbullied.” Continues >>> November 2018 • happiful • 55

Trolling Technology

We’ve all read about cyberbullying and trolling, but you may never have asked yourself how others connect to your behaviour online. Follow the steps below from counsellor and psychologist Philip Karahassan, to find out if your behaviours are akin to cyberbullying: 1) Look at your behaviour both online and offline. Is there a difference? 2) How do you connect to yourself online and offline? Do you feel more comfortable online than offline, and if so why? Think about who you talk to online and your motive for speaking to them. 3) Think about what activities you participate in online. What are your motives for connecting to others? Is it to build lasting relationships, or to feel validated in your point of view? Think about the nature of your discussions; do you stay on topic, or do you find yourself berating someone personally? 4) Connect to your emotions when you’re online. How do you feel when talking to people? Do you feel as you would speaking to them face to face? 5) Ask yourself what you are getting for your actions. Take a look at all of your answers, assess the motives for what you are doing, and the way you communicate online. By assessing how you act online, and reflecting on the ramifications of your behaviour, you can change it for the better.

56 • happiful • November 2018

How you can help


Being bullied online can affect someone enormously, impacting their self-esteem, confidence and social skills – and there’s no such thing as an innocent bystander. If you see something, report it and speak up. By remaining quiet, we may give the impression that bullying is acceptable. Speaking up shows other vulnerable people that this isn’t OK, while letting the bullies know that their behaviour won’t be tolerated. If you suspect someone you care about is being cyberbullied, let them know you’re there to listen and help. Reinforce that they have done nothing wrong, and no one deserves to be treated this way. If they appear uncomfortable, or unwilling to talk, encourage them to speak to someone they trust. Document any instances of cyberbullying by taking screenshots, and keep a record of when and where you report messages or images online. If the bullies are people from school, college, university, or work, bring this to the attention of the administration or HR department.

• Childline for free, confidential advice and support for under 18s. (0800 1111, •B  ullying UK for free, confidential support for parents worried about a child. (0808 800 2222, • The Mix for essential support for people under 25. (0808 808 4994, •N  SPCC for free advice and support for those worried about a child. (0808 800 5000, • Samaritans to talk to someone anytime about any worries or concerns. (116 123,

Freddie Cocker is the founder of Vent, a safe place where men can discuss mental health openly. Find out more at Counselling Directory member Philip Karahassan is an established counsellor and psychologist, with offices in London. Visit

Emojis | Unicode 6.1

Could you be a cyberbully?


the gut-brain connection


More of us are struggling with gut health conditions than ever before. But why does this have such an impact on our mental health? And just how closely connected are our brains and our bellies? Nutritional therapist and health blogger Jenna Farmer chats to the experts to help us get to the bottom of the gut-brain link, once and for all...

If your day is sometimes ruined by an upset stomach, you’re certainly not alone. Here’s a run-down of the most common digestive disorders… 1.Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS is thought to affect one in five of us. It’s a common condition, with symptoms including diarrhoea, constipation, and irregular bowel movements. Continues >>> November 2018 • happiful • 57

Food & Drink

2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD is a more serious condition, which involves inflammation of the digestive tract. People who experience IBD are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and often experience bloody stools, weight loss and anaemia. 3. Coeliac Disease A lifelong autoimmune disease in which the intestines react to gluten, causing gastrointestinal upsets, stomach pain, and low energy. Of course, even those of us who haven’t been diagnosed with the above are probably still no stranger to the occasional digestive issue – whether you’re battling the bloat, or rushing for the indigestion tablets after dinner, gut health affects us all.

HOW DOES OUR DIGESTION IMPACT OUR MENTAL HEALTH? Gut issues can hugely affect our mental health. Many of us may need to adapt to a new diet, leading to difficulties with socialising, and frustration at trying to figure out what to eat. Let’s not forget all the trips to the doctor, too. Even if you are given a clean bill of health, the extra visits and tests can lead to stress and worry – all of which only exacerbates our symptoms. “Feelings in our brain can then play out in the gut,” says Laura Clark, a registered dietician from LEC Nutrition. “This is particularly heightened in those with IBS, as nerves have been shown to be both hypersensitive and hypervigilant.” And of course, what it all boils down to is the “poo taboo”. Despite the increased awareness around gut issues, many of us still aren’t comfortable chatting about our bowel habits. Keeping something from friends and family can be 58 • happiful • November 2018

upsetting, so it’s no wonder those with digestive conditions can be left feeling isolated.

95% of serotonin is made in our guts

THE SCIENCE BEHIND OUR GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION However, there’s plenty of scientific proof of this connection too. “There is a strong link between depression and IBS,” explains Dr Philip Burnet, associate professor at Oxford University, and a leading UK expert on the gut microbiome/ brain axis. “Some researchers have suggested that mood disorders themselves may arise from dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance within the body, such as within the gut.” In turn, those with IBD are also at risk. It’s been reported that up to 80% of those in an IBD flare-up struggle with anxiety. But why is this the case?

Despite the increased awareness around gut issues, many of us still aren’t comfortable chatting about our bowel habits

OUR SECOND BRAIN Let’s start this science lesson with the nervous system. You might think this only resides in our heads, but actually the gut has one all of its own! Our Enteric Nervous System (ENS) resides in the lining of our digestive system, and communicates constantly with the central nervous system (CNS) in our brain. Hence why you’ll often hear our gut being described as “the second brain”. This communication comes from neurotransmitters – chemicals that pass messages, including our thoughts and feelings, around the whole body. One neurotransmitter is the “happy hormone” serotonin. A whopping 95% of serotonin is made in our guts, and those with IBS are thought to have altered levels of it (depending on whether they are prone to IBS-D or IBS-C.) Those with Crohn’s are also thought to have an imbalance between serotonin and “feel good” hormone dopamine.

THE BACTERIA BALANCE Finally, we can’t have a discussion on the gut-brain axis without mentioning the m-word: microbiome! Microbiome – the variety of bacteria in our guts – plays a huge role in both our gut and brain function. We already know that those with IBS might be deficient in certain strains of good bacteria, but this can be the case for those with mental health issues, too. “Our bacteria make-up is as unique to us as our fingerprint,” says Laura Clark. “Research is still in its infancy, but we’re beginning to see that a lot more influences our bacteria than we thought. For example, we are now beginning to understand links between our mood responses and the bacteria in our gut.”


A recent study using multi-strain probiotic Biokult not only showed it improved gastrointestinal symptoms (such as abdominal pain) but also psychological issues, such as worrying about health and lack of enjoyment in life. “Using probiotics that influence our brain function, or the so called ‘psychobiotics’, may in the future help alleviate conditions such as depression and anxiety,” says Dr Burnet.

HOW TO BOOST YOUR GUT HEALTH Not sure how to get to grips with your gut? First on the list is to chat to your GP about any new or niggling symptoms. Once everything’s ruled out, follow these top tips to good gut health: 1. Consider using a food diary For those with IBS, keeping a food diary – I love the one from – to record food intake, mood, sleep, exercise, and symptoms, can help you pinpoint potential trigger foods. Everyone is different, but gluten, dairy and garlic (a high FODMAP food) are some of the most common triggers. Always talk to a dietician before cutting out food groups.

4. Raw isn’t always best When we’re on a health kick, we’ll often reach for the salad – but raw isn’t always best for your gut. If you suffer with sensitive digestion, raw foods can sometimes be too tough to break down. It might be worth switching to cooked veg, or blending tougher fruits into a smoothie. 5. Take some time out Committing to daily meditation can help reduce stress and might be all it takes to make both you and your gut smile. Try Buddhify (, £4.99 ios/Android) an “on-the-go”

meditation app which has specific meditations for things like eating, travelling, and work breaks. Jenna Farmer is a freelance health writer and nutritional therapist. She has Crohn’s disease and blogs about her journey to improve gut health over at Last year, she published her first book ‘Managing IBD: A balanced guide to inflammatory bowel disease’.

For more information about gut health or to find a nutritionist near you, visit

2. Variety is key “The more diverse our diets, the more diverse our guts,” explains Laura Clark. “Experts often recommend trying to hit at least 20 different plant-based foods a week – which includes wholegrains, pulses, and lentils, to broaden and boost the fibre content of our diets.” 3. Tuck in to fermented foods Tucking in to fermented foods can sometimes be just as effective as probiotics. Try adding a spoonful of unpasteurised sauerkraut to evening meals – your taste buds and your gut will thank you for it! November 2018 • happiful • 59

Food & Drink

Fish and chips with tartare sauce Serves 2 Crumbed fish 2 salmon fillets (or fish of choice) 1 tbsp olive oil 1 lemon, zested Juice of half a lemon Try regular 40g couscous peas mixed with salt, pepper and Hasselback potatoes a sprinkling of chill 160g new potatoes i Salt and pepper flakes Olive oil Tartare sauce 1 tbsp chopped capers 2 heaped tbsp Greek yogurt Juice of half a lemon Chopped parsley Method • Preheat oven to 200C, gas mark 6, 180C fan. For the potatoes… • One potato at a time, slowly cut into thin slices almost right through, but stopping about one third of the way up. The trick with hasselbacks is to slice them thin enough to crisp and fan out when baking, but still be fluffy and attached at the bottom. • Once cut, add the potatoes to a baking tin and drizzle with olive oil. Make sure all potatoes are covered, and facing slice-up. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook for 40 minutes. For the fish… • In a bowl, mix the couscous with the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, and a tablespoon of boiling water. Cover and leave to absorb for five minutes. Season to taste. Press the tops and sides of the salmon fillets into the couscous. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. For the tartare sauce... • In a small bowl, mix the capers, yogurt, parsley and lemon juice. 60 • happiful • November 2018


Time to get

tartare-ly fishy It may be one of the nation’s favourites, but this time, you’re the one serving Writing | Ellen Hoggard


inter is coming. Don’t worry, while there are a few Game of Thrones fans here at Happiful HQ, this recipe isn’t inspired by the fantasy series. Well, unless you count the weather. Here in the UK, the days are turning darker and colder and, typically, that means we want not just delicious food, but something that is also comforting and warming. Come Friday night, after a long week at work, ordering a takeaway is the perfect option. But what if we said you could create your own version of a takeaway that is simple to make and just as delicious? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes nothing beats a takeaway curry or pizza, but there are times when you crave the food, yet want to keep within your dietary and financial limits. While fish and chips isn’t the most expensive takeaway on the market, it’s one that you can recreate at home relatively quickly, and is suitable for all the family. Take a little more time making the components, and you’ve got a satisfying, balanced meal, which tastes great and is perfect any day of the week. The good thing about this recipe is that it really does feel quite special, despite taking less than an hour to make. The hasselback potatoes are my favourite part – sad but true – they completely transform the humble spud into something you would serve the gods. Crispy but fluffy, oh yes. Here you’ll find the recipe for our take on the classic fish and chips. Oh, and For nutritional don’t forget – a little imagination goes a support, visit long way. If you want to make a change nutritionistto suit your needs or tastes, then do it. Sometimes taking a risk is what makes the recipe your own, and one you’ll return to time and time again.

Our expert says… This is a well balanced dish containing fats, carbs, and protein. The fat is courtesy of the salmon, an oily fish high in omega 3 fatty acids; essential for healthy skin, the nervous system, and lifting your mood by increasing your serotonin levels. It’s also a good protein source, vital for muscle-building and repair. To make this dish suitable for vegetarians, substitute the salmon for halloumi cheese, which is rich in calcium and protein. For vegans, use firm tofu (an excellent source of low fat, low cholesterol protein that is also high in phytoestrogens – beneficial for women going through the menopause). Just wrap half a sheet of Nori seaweed around the tofu before coating. To increase the protein, fibre and calcium content even more, you could swap the couscous for quinoa. It requires more cooking (15–20 minutes), but uses the same flavourings. If you’re vegan, the tartare sauce can be adapted by using a thick, plain, vegan yogurt. If you are vegetarian, consider using a Skyr-type yogurt for a higher protein content. The potatoes are a good source of carbohydrate, essential for energy, and baking them reduces the fat. Make sure you have at least one portion of vegetables with your meal. An 80g portion of peas will add fibre (great for good gut health), vitamins (especially vitamin C, needed for healthy skin and hair), and protein. Susan Hart is a nutrition coach and speaker, delivering healthy eating advice. She hosts regular wellbeing workshops at Maggie’s Cancer Support Centre at Nottingham City Hospital, and also runs vegan cooking classes. To find out more, visit

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Lifestyle & Relationships










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E: £2 2

5 E X V AT

£ (RR P





Mental Health First Aider and Champion Training Courses are now available at a UK venue near you, provided by Happiful WHY TRAIN AS A MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AIDER?

This two-day course will offer you a chance to: • Gain a deeper understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing, including your own. • Enhance practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues. • Give you the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress.


This one-day course is an opportunity to: • Gain an awareness and understanding of common mental health issues. • Enhance your knowledge and confidence to advocate for mental health awareness.

Head to to book your place on a course 62 • happiful • November 2018

This event is brought to you by Happiful, in partnership with Simpila Healthy Solutions. Both courses are fully accredited and recognised by Mental Health First Aid England – see for more info.

F*** YOU CANCER Images | Centre and right: Instagram: @bowelbabe


Author, podcaster and campaigner Deborah James speaks out on how to face the Big C, live your life, and still be yourself


first interviewed Deborah James when the UK was in the middle of a summer heat wave, and she was on holiday with her family during a break from treatment for stage 4 bowel cancer. We spoke about her upcoming book F*** You Cancer, her thoughts on mental health, and the upcoming second series of You, Me and the Big C – a Radio 5 podcast she

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

co-hosts with friends Rachael Bland and Lauren Mahon. Just over six weeks later, Rachael, a brilliant broadcaster who originally came up with the idea for their show, has died, a couple of days after announcing on social media that she had very little time left to live. During those days, the podcast shot to number one in the charts,

and people up and down the country began talking about the impact You, Me and the Big C, and the three friends have had – opening up the conversation about cancer in a way that is accessible, honest, and often hilarious. Deborah and Lauren contributed to a dedicated podcast for Rachael, released the day after she died. Continues >>> November 2018 • happiful • 63

Lifestyle & Relationships

Deborah with her podcast co-hosts, Rachael [left], Lauren [centre]

“Since Rachael’s death I’ve gone into overdrive talking about and remembering her,” Deborah wrote in the Sunday Times. “She made it easy to know what to do because she talked about her own mortality. ‘Make the most of every second,’ she ordered. If she could do that when dying, we must do so when granted the gift of living. We knew she would want us to carry on living, but take her with us.” I’ve listened with absolute admiration as Deborah and Lauren have spoken about their friend. Both women have been the epitome of professionalism, while radiating complete love and pride for Rachael. Deborah hasn’t always worked in the media – which makes her ability to do 64 • happiful • November 2018

this that much more amazing – having an unexpected career change following her cancer diagnosis in late 2016. Back then, Deborah was a deputy head teacher, training for headship, working 12-hour days, and a busy mum of two. After receiving her diagnosis, she decided to leave teaching, but this decision hit her hard. “I know for some people not having to work sounds like the ideal situation, but I mourned the loss of my job,” Deborah recalls. “It sent me into a massive depression. As a deputy head teacher, I was a professional forward planner; I always knew what was happening a year in advance, and suddenly I didn’t know what was happening from hour to hour on a daily basis.”

Just because you’re not crying, it doesn’t mean you’re not struggling It’s a period she’s very honest about in her book, acknowledging she didn’t realise she was depressed at first. “When I look back, I understand that I was unjustifiably blaming cancer for everything,” she says. “I was sleeping all the time – not because I was tired, but because I had no ‘drive’. I never saw highs in my mood, I was drinking – a lot – I was avoiding people.

Images | Medal: Instagram: @bowelbabe


“But then I found writing, and it brought me out of the darkness. It was my way of talking about my fears and emotions, and making sense of everything in my mind. I found pleasure in helping others through my words, and that in itself helped me.” Now, alongside the podcast, she also writes a column for The Sun, and by the time you read this, her book F*** You Cancer will have been published. All of this has been achieved while in almost continual treatment. “When I started writing I was knee-deep in treatment, and was told I needed a couple more operations, then I was in remission,” Deborah says. “Following that, I was told the cancer had come back again – so depending on what chapter you’re reading, I was in very different stages of my journey.” In the book, Deborah shares her journey so far, along with practical knowledge about chemo, side effects, and suggestions for talking to your children. She shares the kind of stuff you won’t read on NHS websites. “It’s about celebrating the small things that really matter in life,” she notes, “not just looking for the big, blow out finale of treatment – the one stage-fourers can only dream about. It’s not about lowering expectations, but being realistic when cancer is coming at you full steam ahead.”

It’s invaluable advice from someone who is treading the path that the reader may be too. Deborah wants others to know that there is a route forward that doesn’t mean losing yourself, and she’s happy to show them the way. In the introduction she writes: “You may be in the trenches, but let me take your hand and we’ll be in this together.” Her favourite chapters are the ones where her children have contributed suggestions, and those where she focuses on cancer and mental health – a subject she wants to elevate.

When you are having treatment for cancer, the physical side is explained in great detail, but nobody talks about what it’s like to be in hospital for a week, or the mental impact of treatment “When you’re having treatment for cancer, the physical side is explained in great detail,” Deborah says. “You’re hand-held through the entire process, but nobody talks about what it’s like to be in hospital for a week, or the mental impact of treatment.” And Deborah knows that looks can be deceiving when it comes to coping mentally, too. “Just because you’re not crying, it doesn’t mean you’re not struggling,” she says. “I believe that if everyone was a bit more honest about how they are doing, it would all be much easier.” This is where her Instagram account blazes a trail. Among the posts of holidays, family time, and nights out, Deborah shares understandably low moments – the many realities of her day-to-day life, including cancer. As well this honest approach, Deborah credits counselling, exercise, her podcast friends, family, and the community she has met online, for keeping her positive.

“The online community I’ve met has been crucial for my mental health and wellbeing. When you have bowel cancer, you spend a lot of time talking about the intricacies of poo – and that can get really boring for friends and family. But online, there will be someone matching you stage for stage, and when you’re down, you can lift one another up. It’s like you have a team of cheerleaders.” Through all the campaigning, content, and personal experiences Deborah shares, it’s fair to say that she’s responsible for championing a better way forward for many others, especially with the arrival of F*** You Cancer. I can imagine that anyone coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis will feel a bit more armed for what is next with this book – and the podcast – in their arsenal. 'F*** You Cancer: How To Face The Big C, Live Your Life And Still Be Yourself ' (Vermillion, £9.99). Follow Deborah on Instagram @bowelbabe November 2018 • happiful • 65

On theCODE: Road ENTER




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66 • happiful • November 2018

Travelling TIPS

Making your commute

go further

Whether it’s on foot, behind the wheel, or standing in a crowded train, we spend a lot of our time to commuting to work. Estimates show that, on average, we spend an hour getting to work, and for some of us it’s longer still. It’s time for us to start making the most of that travelling time, and leave anxiety behind Writing | Maurice Richmond


et’s be honest, how often do you feel exhausted just by getting to and from work? Whatever form your commute takes, it is not uncommon for us to be left feeling drained. Research shows rail commuters, in particular, are getting drawn into extended work time, using free Wi-Fi and mobile phones to check emails. Great for efficiency, but is it coming at a price?

We want to know if there are practical ways we can get more from our commute, feel energised, and reduce anxiety... A CHANGE OF LANDSCAPE Life Coach Directory member Deborah Chalk, says shortening the journey to work is still a priority for most commuters, but also reveals a number of pointers to stop us from feeling overwhelmed.

“For most people, they’d rather their commute was as short as possible,” she says. “Kirstie and Phil are right when they talk about ‘location location location’, but if the property prices near work are out of your league, there are still ways to improve your situation. “Maybe you could get off the train and walk the last part of your journey? Or you could plan a trip to a local gym Continues >>>

November 2018 • happiful • 67

On the Road

THE GUARDIAN ANGELS Figures show someone will attempt to take their own life on the UK rail network every 31 hours. Four years ago, an increased number of suicides saw a group of trained volunteers get together for the first time, in Barnet. In their first year, Rail Pastors, conducted 30 patrols, reduced crime by 27%, and saved three lives. The group has now grown to more than 100 volunteers, operating in schemes across the UK. British Transport Police (BTP) also made 1,269 life-saving interventions in 2016, working closely with volunteers, mental health charities, the NHS, and the rail industry. In February 2016, Samaritans launched the “We Listen” campaign with support from Network Rail, and backed by the BTP, with the aim of reducing the number of suicides on the railway. Network Rail has also been working with Samaritans since 2010, and has seen more than 11,500 rail staff trained in listening and confidence skills, enabling them to identify people at risk, and help them.

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Travelling TIPS


“I drive from Brighton to just outside of Gatwick every day. I love to listen to podcasts on the drive to and from work – it keeps me active, learning, and is not overly distracting, so I can keep my wits about me on the road!” @__nca “I cycle on backroads. Or if getting the bus, watch Netflix. My bro uses Waze [a navigation app] for his drive – swears by it, especially when it saves him 30 mins or more!” @RobertpHaslam “I struggle with anxiety on public transport, and use it every day for work. I always pack a snack, water, a good book, and a playlist I call “calm”, which is full of my favourite music to keep my mood positive!” @carpediememmie “I do a 40min tube commute, plus walking either end. One thing I find helps is always having a good book lined up for the journey – I actually come to look forward to being below ground, away from distractions, and having some ‘me time’ to read.” @whoismilly

before or after work, so you avoid travelling at peak times. For some people, it could be worth asking to work from home a couple of days a week. The point is to look at all your options.” HOW DOES COMMUTING REALLY AFFECT US? Researchers from the University of West England studied more than 26,000 employees commuting in England over a five-year period, and discovered that each extra minute of commuting time reduces both job and leisure-time satisfaction, increases strain, and worsens mental health for workers. Crucially, the same study found that commuters on foot or bike didn’t report the same dissatisfaction with their leisure time as those who commute by bus or train. It concluded that an additional 20 minutes of commuting per day equates to the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a 19% pay cut. So, is it time we give greater weighting to the commute, looking at it in the same way we do the salary package? Deborah says: “If you have a commute you hate, to a job that you don’t like, then maybe it’s time to reassess things, or to get some help from a coach on how to get out of that situation. It might be something you have to do for the time being, but what if you didn’t need to put up with it forever? “Life-hacking to maximise potential can be fun, but the truth is, it’s your time and you get to choose what you do with

it. Listen to your body and what feels good. Would you like a quick nap? Would you like to read War and Peace? You get to choose what delights you.”

An additional 20 minutes of commuting per day equates to the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a 19% pay cut CAN EMPLOYERS HELP THE COMMUTING WORKFORCE? One innovative way to address several issues has come out of Alabama, USA. Four months ago, Onin, an industrial staffing company, set up Hytch – an app which rewards employees for carpooling, paying them several cents per mile to share transport. In the UK, there’s Liftshare, a free online service allowing you to offer and view regular lifts from drivers in your area. With loneliness an increasing factor of mental ill-health, could sharing the commute with your colleagues, or somebody outside of the office, be the way forward? Whatever way we look to tackle our trips to and from work, maybe it is time we make things easier for ourselves and get back in the driving seat of our commute.

November 2018 • happiful • 69

Highs and Lows

Nathaniel’s Story

To hell and back Drug addiction dragged Nathaniel Orona into a world of pain and humiliation. He had sought peace and happiness in heroin – but finally found it through self-belief, rehab, and yoga


was 18 when I finally agreed to treatment for my drug addiction. I was homeless, haggard, angry, and ashamed when I walked through the doors of the rehab facility. Born in 1998 to young parents struggling to make ends meet, my mother was in college while raising my older brother and me, and my father worked wherever and whenever he could. Our family never had much money, I was bullied, caring for a

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mother who had a severe mental illness, a father who worked unmanageable hours, and a brother who was often absent. I remember the first time I considered suicide, not as a result of actually wanting to die, simply because I didn’t want to live. I got high for the first time when I was 12. My mother, who struggled with severe depression, delusions, and suicidal tendencies, had become steadily worse. My brother was deep in

his own world of self-destruction, and I was in the grip of my blooming depression. I’d been searching for a way to change my reality for as long as I can remember, and eventually asked my brother about weed. We had a long conversation about how drugs make you feel, and it was the first time I remember having a meaningful conversation with him. My brother quietly guided me to the backyard, and we smoked.


I hadn’t realised my ability to abstain from becoming physically addicted to one particular drug was nothing more than a result of my fascination with every drug I didn’t feel high right away, but the second I sat down on my bed, I was blasted with a kind of euphoria I’d never felt before. I was finally happy. I spent the next few years smoking weed, drinking, trying different assortments of pills and powders, experimenting with anything that would hurl me into an altered state of reality. After a while, I realised I hadn’t yet found the peace that I’d gained from that first smoke. It was then that I started looking for heroin. I hadn’t realised my ability to abstain from becoming physically addicted to one particular drug was nothing more than a result of my fascination with every drug. I had no extraordinary willpower, nor was I some superhuman who could dabble occasionally. I was a full-blown drug addict at 15, but too wrapped up in my ego-driven conquest to realise it. A few drugging buddies invited me over to try heroin, and I didn’t skip a beat. I remember not even enjoying it. I got sick, but I thought I had to get high on something, so I kept doing it. Within weeks, I had to have it. I began stealing, lying, hurting, and threatening people, getting others hooked to support my own habit.

I thought I was unique, and that I could ride out the hell of heroin withdrawal at any time and get back on my feet. What I failed to realise was that I was never on my feet to begin with. I was 16. Over the next few years, I’d go through detox more times than I could count. I’d stay clean for short periods, relapse, get deeper than ever before, detox, and repeat the cycle. I was 18 when I got to treatment, broken and battered. I stayed for 21 days, leaving against the advice of every professional, still on suboxone – a drug intended to wean people off heroin. I relapsed shortly after, and overdosed after a few months. I realised my circumstances would never change if my behaviour didn’t. I applied myself, for the

first time in my life, to something positive. I walked back into Narcotics Anonymous and worked to the best of my ability. Today, I have a job in the recovery community, helping addicts find help. I am able to help my family, and support my mother through her illness. I treat my girlfriend with respect and gratitude, and I’ve learned to become a responsible, and compassionate person through practising the 12 steps and adhering to a spiritual discipline called Kriya Yoga. Today, life is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. I am grateful for every ounce of pain, every crash, every disappointment, because it all laid the groundwork for me to build the person I am today.

Our Expert Says Triggered by a damaging and difficult home life, Nathaniel slipped into a life of addiction, using drugs to control his emotions. Ultimately he uses heroin, believing he is in control, until, like all addicts, he finds it impossible to stop. To break the destructive cycle, addicts need to be motivated to change, and it’s only when he realises this and asks for help that things do change. Nathaniel’s story shows how it’s possible to break from behaviour patterns, reclaim control, and eventually build a better life. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor

November 2018 • happiful • 71


Happiful Hack




parenting anxiety

From conception worries, to raging pregnancy hormones, tricky labours, and those dreaded sleepless nights, it’s no wonder that so many new parents find the whole whirlwind emotionally challenging, and anxiety-inducing. But in opening up about our feelings, and seeking the right support, we can move forward positively and leave parenting anxiety in the past Writing | Anna Williamson Illustrating | Rosan Magar



fficial stats in the UK suggest that more than one in 10 new mothers experience postnatal depression (PND) and anxiety, but experts believe this number is actually a lot higher, with many not disclosing how they really feel. New fathers are equally susceptible to mental health issues too, with more than one in three new dads concerned about their mental health, and one in 10 new fathers having PND. As a new mum myself, I can relate only too well, as I experienced the little talked about prenatal anxiety. Having been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder with depression more than a decade ago, I always knew I’d be a candidate for it to return during pregnancy. Statistics show that one in two of us with previous mental health issues are likely to experience it again pre- and postnatally, so close monitoring and self-care is essential. After a traumatic birth, my postnatal anxiety temporarily made me question my feelings on motherhood, and threatened me bonding with my baby. I was cripplingly anxious about looking after him, and recovering myself, and so found very little joy in those months. This is where it’s important to recognise when anxiety needs to be taken seriously; when it becomes a daily challenge, and negatively affects thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In my book, Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety, I talk about the mental health topics that surround becoming a new parent. My research was overwhelmingly conclusive that pretty much all new parents feel the same cocktail of emotions, being overwhelmed, and anxious at times – but by speaking openly, we can kick parenting anxiety to the curb.

1 Go at your own pace

It can be overwhelming to think that others are coping, or getting on with things, better or quicker than you.

Every birth is different, every child is different, and therefore everyone’s recovery and way of adapting is different. Never measure yourself against anybody else. Trust your body and mind to go at the pace that’s right for you.

2 Keep talking

The first few weeks and months can be an anxiety hotspot, with so much change. You may even feel anxious about your feelings towards your baby, and wonder where that Hollywood wallop of love is, but very few people actually feel this, and that’s OK – you’ve only just met this little person after all, and it can take time for feelings to grow. The main thing is to not bottle up your emotions or worries. Talk to someone you trust, and work through what might be going on in your head to relieve any anxiety.

One in two of us with previous mental health issues are likely to experience it again pre- and postnatally, so close monitoring and self-care is essential 3 Ignore the know-it-alls

Parenting, it seems, is a free-for-all, where everyone wants to share their wisdom – whether it’s been asked for or not. Too many people offering advice can make a new parent feel anxious, and chip away at their fragile confidence. By all means ask for help, but if someone keeps pushing “their way” on you, politely hold your own, and let them know that you appreciate them caring, but you have your own way of doing things.

4 Make new parent mates

Becoming a new parent can throw you into a situation not too dissimilar from your first day of school. Suddenly, you find yourself on maternity or paternity leave, feeling a little isolated at home, but realising that most of your friends are at work. Making new friends can be daunting, but remember that everybody is in the same boat – normally completely winging it and hoping for the best. Consider joining some local groups or clubs where you can interact with other new parents, and look for people with similar interests. You only need one or two people to give you support on those more monotonous days, and offer a well-needed shoulder and a cuppa, to allow you to offload any pent-up anxiety.

5 Going back to work

For those parents who return to work, this is always an emotional topic; suddenly emerging from your baby bubble and getting back into the real world, along with the added anxiety of leaving your little one for several hours a day while you earn the pennies. The important thing is to go at your own pace, and keep communicating with your boss and colleagues so it isn’t overwhelming. Do some research, and have taster sessions at nurseries or with childminders to familiarise yourself and baby, and get any boundaries (such as leaving on time, working hours etc.) set with your employer before you go back. This should give you peace of mind and reduce any anxiety about having to return to work. Anna is a TV and radio presenter, and the author of number one best-selling books ‘Breaking Mad: The Insider’s Guide to Conquering Anxiety’, and ‘Breaking Mum and Dad: the Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety’. She is a certified counsellor, life coach, and NLP practitioner. Visit for more. November 2018 • happiful • 73

Expert Article | Trauma Recovery

Photography | Kinga Cichewicz

5 DAILY AFFIRMATIONS I have the courage I need to reach my dreams I am open to others My thoughts and ideas are important Obstacles won’t stop me I can do this

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An insight into

EMDR With an estimated three in 100 people in the UK experiencing PTSD during their lifetime, finding effective ways to respond to traumatic events is essential for us to heal. One option, already proven to be highly effective, is EMDR. Here, we discover exactly what the treatment entails... Writing | Fe Robinson

What is EMDR? EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the emotional distress, and psychological symptoms, that can result from disturbing life experiences. Developed in the 1980s by American psychologist Francine Shapiro, EMDR was originally created to resolve posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),

although nowadays it has much wider applications. More than 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use EMDR, and millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years. How does EMDR work? Usually, when an experience is upsetting, our “adaptive information processing” capacity means that

we digest and make sense of the experience, and in time our distress goes away. However, if an experience, or a set of experiences over time, overwhelm us, this natural process can be disrupted. When this happens, the memories get stored with negative emotions, uncomfortable physical sensations, and limiting beliefs. The unresolved memories are not then linked to our wider Continues >>>

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Expert Article | Trauma Recovery

memory networks, and so these upsetting emotions, thoughts and sensations, can colour our perception of what is happening now. This means that, in a very real sense, the past is present. We react here and now to what was actually there and then, and this can be extremely upsetting and disruptive. EMDR makes use of the mind’s natural ability to heal from disturbing experiences. The therapist uses an eight-step process to safely prepare you to process troubling experiences, and to integrate your changed experience into your mind-body system. The processing element involves alternating attention between the past and the present, with stimulation of both sides of your mind/body system when you attend to the past. This prompts spontaneous connectionmaking, re-interpretation of the past, and integration of previously stuck memories into your wider memory network. The result is that the troubling memories stop being troubling; they recede into the past where they belong. This leaves you free to live in the here and now.

95% of those treated with EMDR no longer had PTSD symptoms after eight treatment sessions

Who can benefit from EMDR therapy? EMDR was originally developed to assist people who had been traumatised and had symptoms of PTSD. But EMDR therapy can also be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that cause people to experience low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and attachment difficulties. There are protocols aimed at addictions, OCD and many other conditions. EMDR may help if you have persistent feelings and/or body sensations that are just not going away, or if you are caught in cycles of undermining thoughts and behaviours. The therapy works by identifying when and where these were initiated, and resolving those experiences. 76 • happiful • November 2018

What’s the evidence? Many studies have been conducted on EMDR therapy, across a broad spectrum of conditions the treatment could help with. These include a study published in the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research in 2013 on the use of EMDR with cancer patients, which found that 95% of those treated with EMDR no longer had PTSD symptoms after eight treatment sessions. Another study, published in Psychotherapy, found that 100% of single-trauma victims and 77% of

multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after six 50-minute sessions. In a study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. Alongside these examples, there has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognised as an effective form of treatment for trauma, and other disturbing experiences, by the World Health Organisation and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK.


Sean’s experience: Sean Gardner, chairman of the Trauma Response Network (TRN), experienced the effects of mass trauma first-hand following the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May 2017. Sean had EMDR sessions himself, and really valued them in the wake of the trauma. “Being at the Manchester Arena with my two daughters on the night of the 2017 attack threw me into an extraordinary situation. It resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD that led to weeks of sleepless nights, and caused relationships around me to break down. “After a number of intensive EMDR sessions, I quickly learnt the main triggers causing my stress and, importantly, how to deal with them. The therapy helped to change my perspective, and to rationalise and process what I had witnessed. Less invasive than cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR also worked incredibly quickly; I was able to sleep for the first time in weeks after just three sessions. “The process isn’t anything you will have experienced before, and although I feel I will never fully get over what happened, EMDR therapy has helped me regain a normal life. “My personal experience revealed a gap in emergency first aid provision for mental health. In partnership with a team of EMDR therapists, I launched a unique service to deliver free emergency psychological support to victims of mass trauma events. Within hours of an event, those affected can selfrefer online, benefiting from a free online psychoeducation session.” For more information, visit

These upsetting emotions can colour our perception of what is happening now. This means that, in a very real sense, the past is present

EMDR is a dance of attention between there and then, and here and now, alongside stimulation of both sides of the body (called bilateral stimulation and done with eye movements, touch/holding buzzers, and/or using headphones). It works by enabling your mind-body system to make connections between vulnerable, isolated parts of you and the wealth of resources that you already have that can help them. You continue working with memories until your symptoms are resolved, or reduced to your satisfaction. This can take a few, or many, sessions, depending on the nature of your history and symptoms.

What can you expect? So how does EMDR work? Firstly, clarity is needed about what is bringing you to therapy, and what you want the outcome to be. With your therapist, you’ll spend time gently piecing together the key experiences that contribute to your symptoms, and see which are the most pressing to address. Next, safety will be considered, because EMDR is not appropriate for everyone. If it’s right for you, your therapist will assist with building your ability to stay with uncomfortable emotions, body sensations and thoughts, and sometimes in building resilient aspects of yourself in case they are needed during processing. For some people, doing this work alone is enough to resolve difficulties. EMDR processing then involves getting you fully into your distress reaction, to open up the brain circuits that are holding the distress. This is done by targeting a specific memory, and experiencing its current emotional, physical and cognitive effects. It’s sometimes uncomfortable, but is generally not as unpleasant as people fear. Although one memory is targeted at a time, you may move about between memories as processing unfolds – your therapist will help the work stay focused.

How does EMDR help people? Clients often want to know how the change will happen. The truth is, I’ve not seen two cases that are the same. While the specific way memories are processed is highly individual, what is common is that levels of distress invariably come down during EMDR processing. Some clients may experience distress between sessions for a while, with emotion, vivid dreams and sleep disturbance, or troubling thoughts. But as the work progresses, people tend to experience changing beliefs about themselves and their past situations, with positive, enabling beliefs spontaneously appearing and becoming deeply held. Physical sensations and emotions also tend to change, with disturbance felt in the body to begin with, and not later on. The protocols used in EMDR ensure that the changes needed have happened, and that memories are fully resolved before the work is complete. Fe Robinson is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and EMDR therapist. Visit to find out more. To learn more about EMDR, visit, or search for a registered practitioner by using November 2018 • happiful • 77

Culture & Lifestyle

Book review

A Very Human Ending: How suicide haunts our species Blending personal experiences with scientific research, psychologist Jesse Bering takes an in-depth look at why we complete suicide Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford


uicide. It’s such a taboo subject. Jesse Bering’s book itself has been published under two names; in the US, it’s available as the more direct Suicidal: Why we kill ourselves, but here in the UK, we’ve got a softer, more academic title – A Very Human Ending: How suicide haunts our species. As a whole, when it comes to our mental health and wellbeing, we’ve been moving towards a more open, honest, approach over the past decade. Never before have we felt so comfortable talking about subjects that once would have been spoken about only in whispers, if at all. But why then, is talking about suicide still so difficult?

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TRIGGER WARNING If you are in a vulnerable place, if you have lost a loved one to suicide, or if you have a history of suicidal thoughts, this book has the potential to be triggering, and upsetting. If you are interested in the reasons why some individuals complete suicide, A Very Human Ending includes both personal stories and experiences, and the latest scientific research and theories. In Bering’s own words: this is not a book about the individuals, but about what we can learn from them. While many of the stories are heartbreaking, it’s their thought-provoking nature that is key. A Very Human Ending aims to share the stories of individuals so that we can change our own

lives and perspectives, and perhaps understand their struggles and thoughts a little better. FROM A PLACE OF EXPERIENCE An author and successful psychologist, Bering spent his 30s believing he was going to complete suicide. As these feelings began to fade, he was left with many questions: where had these thoughts come from? Would they return? Do other species experience these feelings? While taking us through the psychology and science of suicide, Bering weaves in his personal experiences, stories of those who have lost loved ones to suicide, and the experiences of those who have contemplated and attempted suicide.


If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or are concerned about a loved one, there are people out there who can listen and help: •S  amaritans are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Trained volunteers are there to listen at any time, about anything. Call them free on 116 123 from the UK or visit • The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is available from 5pm until midnight every day for men struggling with suicidal thoughts. Call 0800 58 58 58 or visit •P  apyrus aims to help prevent young suicide. Call their hopeline on 0800 068 41 41 or visit to find how to get help and support.

Someone takes their own life every 40 seconds Throughout, Bering shares his own suicidal feelings. In places it is graphic, but poignant. While hard to read, it adds the personal insight that the purely clinical words of an expert who knows the theory, but hasn’t experienced the struggle, would be hard-pressed to achieve. Unlike a purely personal memoir, Bering’s scientific grounding gives a more rounded view, with frequent references to experts, studies, and fresh research. A ROUNDED APPROACH TO A PAINFUL TOPIC Jesse looks at suicide and suicidal thoughts as a whole. From genetic

and environmental factors to statistics and global figures, many of the numbers are startling and upsetting. “Globally, a million people a year kill themselves, and many times that number try to do so. That’s probably a hugely conservative estimate,” Jesse explains. “Roughly though, these figures translate to the fact that someone takes their own life every 40 seconds.” Yet, these figures never feel like they are included to shock or incite panic, nor do the snippets of true experiences from friends, colleagues, and strangers feel gratuitous or sensationalised. “When I get suicidal again – not if, but when – I want to be armed with an up-to-date scientific understanding that allows me to critically analyse my own doomsday thoughts,” Jesse explains bluntly. “I want you to have the same advantage. That’s largely what this book is about… revealing the psychological secrets of suicide, the tricks our minds play on us when we’re easy emotional prey. For those of you trying to understand how someone you loved or cared about could have done such an inexplicable thing as to take their own life, my hope is that you’ll benefit, too, from this examination of the selfdestructive mind and how we, as a species, think about suicide.” A HEARTBREAKING LOOK AT A TEEN’S LAST MONTHS One of the most difficult sections to read focuses on a teenager called Vic, and her parents. Months after completing suicide, Vic’s personal journal of the four months prior to her death was found on her laptop.

Vic’s parents shared her diary and poetry with Bering, in the hope that her story might in some way be able to help others. From her feelings that her life would be over if she didn’t receive the right exam grades, to how she attempted to deal with her own sexuality and unrequited feelings of love for her best friend, Vic’s story is in many ways the hardest to read. Whether it is her young age, the self-awareness of her problems, the fragile beauty and hopelessness of her writing, or the knowledge of how her life came to a close, it is by far one of the sections with most impact. SHOULD I READ IT? I’m not going to lie; it’s a heavy read. But that shouldn’t stop you. A Very Human Ending gives an insight into an impossibly complex, emotional, tough subject. If you haven’t been touched by suicidal thoughts, or the death of a loved one through suicide, this is a vital read to see beyond media representations and TV dramatisations that criminalise and romanticise the struggle that more of us face than you may realise. ‘A Very Human Ending: How suicide haunts our species’ by Jesse Bering (Doubleday, RRP £16.99)

If you have been affected or bereaved by suicide, the Support After Suicide Partnership offers emotional and practical help and support. Visit to find out more.

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You’re not just a mother, you’re a woman, and you’ve got lots of different arms to your being


Clemmie Hooper:

A room of her own When midwife and mother to two daughters, Clemmie Hooper first started blogging about her maternity leave in 2010, she could never have predicted that it would pave the road to them becoming one of the country’s most well-loved families. Eight years, twin daughters and two book deals later, 1.3 million people are now following the family of six on Clemmie and her husband Simon’s respective Instagram accounts: ‘mother_of_daughters’ and ‘father_of_daughters’. Through the trials and tribulations of family life, Clemmie’s honesty, relatability and style shines through, as she gracefully navigates 21st Century motherhood. Here we discuss the realities of parenting, talking to children about mental health, and the importance of creating adult-only sanctuaries in our homes

Photography | Philipa James

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Hi Clemmie! You’re at the centre of a movement of women opening up about the realities of motherhood. Why do you think that is? Social media, for one. When I first started blogging, I remember reading a blog by Sarah Turner [The Unmumsy Mum]; her baby was quite young and she wrote about being overwhelmed and bored. It was the first time I had seen this documented. There are the lows where people are struggling with postnatal depression, but there’s also this grey matter we didn’t talk about of: “I’m not depressed, I’m just finding today particularly boring.” It’s just honest, and I think times are changing for the better.

You have 'adult-only’ rooms in your home. Why did you create these spaces? When I was growing up, my parents had a room where they had their books and music, and an open fire, and lovely sofas. When we were younger we didn’t want to go in there because it was boring – we just wanted to go into our TV room. I wanted to recreate that; it’s so peaceful, and having your own space is very important. And it’s a screen-free room? Yes, and I think that’s the main thing. In the evening we put on music and it’s a really nice space to sit with Simon and chat. Funnily enough, the kids just don’t really go in there.

I make the joke that they’re banned from going in there, but obviously they can go in – I’m not that precious about it. Do you think these spaces help preserve a sense of yourself, outside of your role as a mother? Oh, 100%. I remember when the girls were all tiny babies and they would sleep in our room in their little cribs. I was so desperate to get them out when they were six-months-old, because I wanted my own space back, and to be able to sit up in bed and read and not have to creep in. I think we all slept better when they went in their own rooms. Continues >>> November 2018 • happiful • 81

Lifestyle & Relationships

Clemmie and her daughters modelling her jewellery range with Rachel Jackson

I actually think that 'balance' is bullshit What’s the key to creating that sanctuary in your home? It’s about not having toys in your bedroom; having pictures on your wall that you love, music playing that you love, furniture that you want to sit on and isn’t just there because it’s durable and practical for children. I’ve got a candle on my desk that’s got a swear word on it. Obviously it’s not appropriate to have in a place where children are, but I think it’s really funny and it’s my room, so I want to be able to have those things. You’re not just a mother, you’re a woman, and you’ve got lots of different arms to your being. It’s quite easy to lose that identity, so creating areas that are that bit of you is so important. You definitely have lots of arms! You recently launched a jewellery range with designer Rachel Jackson. How did that come about? I’ve loved her jewellery for a while, and last year she contacted me to ask if I would be interested in doing a collaboration with her. 82 • happiful • November 2018

I love jewellery – it’s probably my biggest guilty pleasure – and this collaboration couldn’t be a better fit, because Rachel resembles so much of what I identify with: she’s a working mother who started her business from the kitchen table.

when I’ve done a 12-hour shift and I’ve got home at night, I’m tired, I’m not grumpy. I’ve got to be honest about it, and make time for me. That’s self-care, isn’t it?

How do you balance everything? I try not to say “balance”; I actually think that “balance” is bullshit. If I’m really engrossed in work then my kids aren’t seeing me, and if I’m really engrossed in being a mum then I’ve missed 20 emails that day. I think you just have to completely separate them out. I don’t always get it right, I’m only human, but once the kids are in bed, I’m on that sofa, or I’m cooking dinner or listening to music. That’s really my downtime.

What advice would you give to parents who are struggling to find time for self-care? Some days you might meet all the expectations, like going to a play-group and meeting other parents, and then the next day you might have a really bad day because your baby is a baby and they’re not very predictable. But the key message is that it’s OK to have a bad day. It’s OK not to enjoy it all the time. It’s definitely OK to admit that and say: “Oh God, yesterday was a complete write-off; it all went wrong. But let’s have a better day today.”

If you’re feeling stressed or down, is that something you can show in front of your children? Yes. I think it’s potentially dangerous to always say everything’s fine. If I’m losing my temper, or I’m upset, it’s better for me to explain why. Like

Clemmie’s jewellery collection, in collaboration with London-based jewellery brand Rachel Jackson, is available from the end of October, and can be found on racheljacksonlondon. com. Follow Clemmie on Instagram @mother_of_daughters

Images | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald: Jaap Buitendijk - Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc, Bridge Water Carnival: Peter J Nicholls Photogeaphy, EFG logo:

NOVEMBER The Happiful Seal of Approval THE CONVERSATION

International Stress Awareness Week: To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the International Stress Management Association have extended the 2018 Stress Awareness Day to a week. Working with the aim of ending the stigma associated with stress and mental health, this year’s focus is: Does Hi-Tech Cause Hi-Stress? (5–9 November, visit

PUT ON A SHOW EFG London Jazz Festival: From new talent to world-renowned performers, and concert halls to intimate recitals, the EFG London Jazz Festival offers a 10-day celebration of the wondrous world of jazz. From Bobby McFerrin, to Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, to Jazz for Toddlers workshops, this festival has something for everyone. (London, 16 to 25 November. Find out more at

TECH TIP-OFFS Elevate – Brain Training: From improved focus to processing speed, memory, speaking and maths skills, this personalised brain training app offers over 35 games, daily brain workouts and more to help you build cognitive capacity. (Free from the App Store and Google Play Store)


LEND US YOUR EARS Beyond the To-Do List: In this podcast, author, speaker and coach Erik Fisher talks to successful friends and influencers about how they manage their time, prioritise tasks, and take steps to avoid burning out. (Find episodes:

This month, embrace the cold weather at the UK’s largest winter festival, try the app that trains your brain, or mix up a storm in a glass with an innovative collection of non-alcoholic cocktails



OUT AND ABOUT Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival: Running since the 1600s, the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival is the best place to experience ‘squibbing’ – a tradition where hundreds of fireworks on sticks are held aloft along the road, giving the effect of a rain of light. Watch as more than 100 floats join the parade, featuring 22,000 light bulbs to illuminate the procession. (Somerset, 3 November. Get tickets at


The Seedlip Cocktail Book by Ben Branson: The ultimate nonalcoholic cocktail book from Seedlip, the brand that created the first distilled non-alcoholic spirit. The collection includes recipes from the world’s finest bartenders, which balance delicious flavours for mouthwatering alternatives to alcoholic drinks. (Out 1 November, Bantam Press, RRP: £14.99)

PLUGGED-IN Jessamyn Stanley: Renowned yoga instructor and writer, Jessamyn Stanley proves that yoga is for all bodies, and preaches the freedom to embrace and express yourself just as you are. (Follow Jessamyn on Instagram @mynameisjessamyn)

S QUA R E E Y E S Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: The second instalment in the Fantastic Beasts series immerses you in J K Rowling's wizarding world. Featuring performances from Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Jude Law, amongst others, The Crimes Of Grindelwald offers a magical thrill for the whole family. (In cinemas 16 November)


Night of Neon: Tie your neon laces and crack out the glow-sticks for The Christie charity’s annual fun run. Walk or run five or 10 km around Salford Quays, Manchester, and raise money for the fight against cancer. Entry fee discounts are available for groups and families, each participant will get a free Night of Neon T-shirt, and there will be facepainting and accessories to buy on the day. (Manchester, 10 November. Register online up to 9 November at

T REAT YO U RS E L F May the Thoughts Be With You cards:

When artist Charlotte Reed was struggling with depression, she began creating positive illustrations and thoughts to help her through. Now, she spreads joy with her hand-drawn greeting cards that feature soulful, uplifting messages inspired by her own journey. (Shop Win a bundle of May the online by searching Thoughts Be With You greeting cards. To enter, email for ‘May the Thoughts Be With telling us how you spread You’ on, joy to friends and family! RRP: £2.50)

Charity of the Month

The Movember Foundation:

‘Grow a Mo, Save a Bro’ 2003: the year the M6 Toll opened, Mick Jagger received a knighthood, and two friends – Travis Garone and Luke Slattery – were having a beer in a bar in Melbourne, Australia, lamenting the fact that moustaches had been all but left behind by the fashion industry. In an effort to resurrect the tache, Travis and Luke convinced 30 guys to take part in a challenge to grow a moustache for 30 days. What started as a bit of fun between two friends, is now one of the world’s most popular men’s health fundraising movements, with more than five million ‘Mo Bros’ taking part in Movember each year – the campaign funding breakthrough research by challenging participants to grow a sponsored moustache throughout the month of November Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

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he Movember Foundation is more than a charity, it’s a movement of “bros” standing up for their friends’, fathers’, brothers’, partners’, and their own wellbeing. While the foundation runs awareness and fundraising activities throughout the year, the pinnacle of the movement is in November, with the annual Movember campaign, that challenges men to grow moustaches in 30 days. Since it began, the Movember Foundation has enjoyed incredible success – funding more than 1,200 breakthrough men’s health projects in 20 different countries. What’s undeniable is that the Movember Foundation has a unique charm for a charity, and this charm is capturing the imagination of its millions of supporters. But what is it about the campaign that makes it so popular? The Movember Foundation CEO, Owen Sharpe, tells us it’s down to three core things: “Firstly, Movember is all about men’s health, and we all have men in our lives that we care about. It is also because Movember creates a sense of fun and community across a whole month and beyond – people love the brand, and that is unusual for the charity sector. I also think it is because Movember is celebrating what is good about being a man.” THE MATTER OF MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH Movember raises funds to support research programs that mean men can live happier, healthier and longer lives. An important part of this mission is about addressing men’s emotional wellbeing, which the foundation began doing after the founders lost people they knew to suicide in 2006. “Movember is addressing mental health because three out of four suicides are male,” says Owen. “More than 500,000 men every year, across the globe, die by suicide. It is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45.”


• Every 45 minutes, a man in the UK dies from prostate cancer • Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men under 40 • 12 men die from suicide every day in the UK • Three out of four suicides are completed by men “These facts are shocking, and this is a crisis that must be addressed. Movember can be a big part of helping to solve this problem – we are investing in targeted projects, we are providing skills to men, and we are going to shout about this issue from the rooftops – it cannot be ignored any longer.” For a brand with humour in its bones, when it comes to taking on mental health, the Movember Foundation is getting serious – pledging to reduce the rate of male suicides by 25% before 2030. This pledge comes with a clear, six-step plan: Education Teaching men to take action early when times are tough. Conversations that matter Working towards a world where men and boys are comfortable having conversations about the big things. Services that work for men Ensure that services are designed with men’s specific needs in mind. Bright minds, brought together Funding innovative projects and sharing knowledge globally. Community first Ensure men are able to access support in their communities where they are most comfortable.

Advocating for all men Calling on governments to understand the issues men are facing and demanding action.

Movember is celebrating what is good about being a man IT’S PERSONAL The men’s health epidemic is real, and it’s shortening the lives of the men who matter most to us. From the lack of awareness and information about prostate and testicular cancers, to the taboo of talking about mental health, something has got to change. For Owen, like the many millions of people who support Movember, his passion for the cause is personal. “I am a man, and there are so many men in my life that I care about,” he says. “Men’s health has always been a big part of my professional life. I started my career as a nurse, and I worked in the national health service for many years. “I firmly believe that there are no good reasons why men should be dying five years earlier than women, and it is an absolute privilege to be leading the global organisation that is at the forefront of changing the face of men’s health forever.” We all need to learn to take care of number one, and the Movember Foundation offers many resources to help men check themselves at home. But the fuel to the fire of Movember is community. It’s about checking in on yourself, but also on the other men in your life. “Mo-Sistas” are the friends, colleagues, partners and relatives of the Mo-Bros, and they play a pivotal role in the success of Movember. From words of encouragement and reassuring winks, to getting hands-on with hosting fundraising events, everyone can get involved in spreading the word. Continues November 2018 • happiful • 85

Charity of the Month

From just 30 ‘Mo Bros’ in 2003, there are now more than five million ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sistas’ around the globe

Movember has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects


Grow Grow a mo for 30 days in November, collect donations and start conversations. The style, the shape, and the attitude is up to you. Move Every hour, 60 men die by suicide. Challenge yourself to walk or run 60 miles throughout the month. Host Put on a show and raise funds by getting your friends together for a “Mo-ment”. Register online: TALKING MONEY In 2017, UK “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” raised a staggering £8 million. The funds are then distributed to a broad range of programmes and men’s health partners, both globally and locally. In the UK, this includes Prostate Cancer UK, as well as 16 other programmes including “Go to where men are – Young Men” – a vision of a world where all young men are mentally healthy and well. 86 • happiful • November 2018

Movember sees the value in sharing research and information with other organisations in order to better work towards a shared goal of improving the lives of men everywhere. In a step towards this target, 2014 saw the Movember Foundation open two Movember Centres of Excellence in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK. These centres bring experts together in one place in an effort to accelerate research and real change. “I am so proud of so many things that Movember has achieved,” says Owen. “A great example is the impact that our Centres of Excellence in Prostate Cancer have made. “We have brought together some of the best researchers to drive forward the knowledge of prostate cancer, and the most rewarding aspect of this is that now men are experiencing better outcomes.” ANOTHER YEAR ANOTHER TACHE The beating heart of Movember is their six core values: • Respect – being caring and inclusive • Humble – never forgetting why we are here • Team Movember – enable every person to be their best

The men’s health epidemic is real, and it’s shortening the lives of the men who matter most to us • Remarkable experience – creating them for people and communities • Change agent – thinking and acting differently to effect everlasting change • Fun – have fun doing good It’s the supportive, good-natured essence of Movember that makes it so special and so revolutionary. In that spirit, the million-pound question is: what style of moustache will Owen be sporting this year? “This will be my seventh Movember campaign,” he tells us. “I normally prefer the handlebar or ‘trucker’ moustache, but you never know! “That’s the beauty of Movember: it’s a great excuse to try out a new look, or even look really daft, for a great cause.” To find out more about the Movember campaign and to donate or register as a fundraiser, visit

Hayley’s Story

Photography | Salli Gainsford Photography

Finding my inner strength


used to be that person that would use the term “panic attack” loosely. If I was running late for work and the traffic was bad, or if I couldn’t find that perfect outfit for a night out, I’d say that I was having a panic attack. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth, and little did I know the physical and emotional rollercoaster I would ride in the years to come. My earliest memory of feeling anxious was when I was just four years old, on my first day of

Ex-police officer and mum of two Hayley Grant-Bampton recalls experiencing anxiety from childhood, but it wasn’t until she had a panic attack that she understood what had been going on her whole life. Now, she’s using her own experience to do something positive... primary school. By lunchtime, I had wound myself up so much that I was sick and sent home. Throughout my primary school years, I had dozens of these “episodes”. When friends would invite me for sleepovers, birthday parties or even school trips, I would feel “different”. I remember thinking to myself: “Why does no one else have these sensations?” I would feel sick out of nowhere, my heart would race, and I’d get hot and flustered. It was like my brain was telling me something

was seriously wrong, but I could never understand what that something was. I started to believe that these feelings were “normal” for me. These “nervous” moments would keep coming, to the extent that my dad would regularly have to come out in the middle of the night to bring me home from sleepovers. I’d make up any excuse to leave, but once I was in the car the sensations would fade away, and within a short period of time I would feel fine. Continues >>>

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Overcoming Anxiety

Hayley’s Story In my head I linked sleepovers to these sensations and I would avoid them. I remember feeling like I was going to be left out of friendship circles because of it. I later learnt that my pure avoidance of these situations was only fuelling my issues. Several years later, I was in my late teens, and in my first proper relationship. I had developed a major fear around eating in formal situations. My relationship with this boy was strong, yet I still felt I couldn’t talk about what was going on in my head. What if he thought I was crazy? What if he left me? I hadn’t really spoken to my parents about it either. Enough was enough when I was actually sick at a table in a restaurant. I decided to go to the GP and tried to explain my symptoms. I came away with morning sickness tablets as the

It was like my brain was telling me something was seriously wrong, but I could never understand what that something was 88 • happiful • November 2018

Hayley with her daughter Lucia

doctor had absolutely no idea what I had been suffering with for the past 16 years. The word anxiety wasn’t even mentioned. I kept these tablets close though, and they became my safety net. For a short time, just knowing I had them gave me a false reassurance. A few years later, I left school and I joined the police service. Even though these unknown sensations still lingered, I somehow managed to keep a lid on them. I rarely spoke about these feelings to anyone, as I didn’t know where to start. At the time, I managed to go to work, throwing myself into helping people in a really busy London borough. The years that followed were stressful though. When I was 22, my beautiful nan passed away. It was quite sudden as she deteriorated very quickly, and I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye to her. This completely broke my heart and I had a tough time grieving. It was shortly after this I found out I was expecting my first child, and while this was a really exciting time, my unborn baby’s dad and I had a rocky relationship – which resulted in a messy breakup shortly after my son was born. A year later, my parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. They didn’t have the smoothest relationship, and I’d always felt a

massive pressure on my shoulders to make sure my dad was OK when they argued. Once they separated, things calmed down. I met my now husband and we had our little girl. The “feelings” I had been experiencing for all these years calmed, and I started to feel “normal” for the first time in forever. Then, two years later, my life changed forever. It was the day before Christmas Eve in 2013, and my hubby and I were shopping for the last few bits. I had my first full-blown anxiety attack. I thought I was dying. We sat down in a corner of a restaurant and I became overwhelmed with what I now know to be every anxiety symptom going. I felt sick, I had a racing heart, I was dizzy and disorientated, I was sweating, my hands cramped up, my legs went to jelly, and I had this weird tunnel vision sensation. I’ll never forget, there were two guys sitting on the table opposite us who didn’t notice I


was struggling. All I could think of was: “Why can’t they see I need help?” My husband Lee was stuffing his face, also oblivious to the fact I needed help. I appeared “normal” from the outside, but inside I was panicking. From that day on, I finally had my diagnosis. I was suffering with anxiety. It may sound strange, but it was a relief. I finally had an answer to what had been happening for the past 25 years! At times, the anxiety was horrendous. One attack would roll into another. I lived in a constant terrified state. I was your typical “textbook” sufferer. I tried so many different remedies, but nothing worked, and I had to sign-off from work as I was really struggling. The fear of getting on the train was bringing on anxiety attacks – as was the fear of public spaces, or tight spaces. Nowhere was “safe” for me. But then I came across mindfulness and meditation. It taught me to take a step back from the everyday stress that I was battling in my head. It taught me that when I believed I was coping, I was far from it. Mindfulness and meditation allowed me to have even just 10 minutes a day of “me time”, to sit peacefully and just breathe. I learnt that I didn’t need a physical “safe place” to feel safe; I had my own breath.

While I was off work, I sat down and wrote out what I wanted from life. I decided to enrol on a course so that I could help children who suffer with anxiety, like I did as a child. So, Happy Little Minds with Hayley was born! I have set up my classes, in and out of local schools in my area, for children aged three years and up. The children who come to my classes experience anxiety, stress, low self-esteem/confidence, or have been bullied, or may be on the autism spectrum, or have ADHD. I have already seen some massive changes in them, and have formed some amazing bonds with children who have struggled their entire life. It’s truly amazing. After 15 years in the police service, I’ve now left to continue building my business; it’s an amazing feeling to have complete job satisfaction through teaching my classes to children instead.

I was once a negative thinker, but my anxiety has made me realise I am a strong woman. To all my fellow anxiety sufferers: Keep going, you are stronger than you think! Find out more about Hayley’s classes to help children by visiting

Hayley on holiday with her family

Our Expert Says Hayley’s story beautifully illustrates that however strong and capable we are, we still need to take time for some self-care. She battled through her stress and anxiety, searching for a solution, and realised that what she really needed to do was take a step back, speak out and find help that would allow her to deal with it. Anxiety attacks can seem insurmountable, but with the right techniques, they can be a thing of the past. It’s great that Hayley is now finding fulfilment by using her experience to help the next generation! Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

November 2018 • happiful • 89

Happiful Hero

Coaching the next generation:

Teaching children to build strong foundations Nominated by her twin sister, Kathleen Drury, Katie Epton goes above and beyond to help children build confidence


life coach, mother to her daughter Lydia, and aunt to Kathleen’s two daughters, Katie Epton knew that she wanted to combine her expertise and passion, by helping young people build strong life foundations. So in 2017, Katie launched Esther Esteem, a character that she plays in an online video series, who offers life coaching to primary school Send your age children. nominations to In the videos, she sometimes appears alongside her daughter Lydia, who plays the character of Little Esther, as they tackle topics from beliefs and emotions, to friendships and affirmations.

Do you know an unsung hero?

90 • happiful • November 2018

“Katie wants to help people and has taken several courses to be able to do this, including life coaching, NLP and philosophy,” her twin sister Kathleen tells us. “She has worked hard her whole life and never gives up on her dreams. She is so enthusiastic and passionate about Esther and helping people, and I think you can really see this reflected in her work.” Recently, Katie began her A–Z YouTube series, where each video covers a different topic with the aim of helping children to learn how to care for themselves, and set their own strong foundations in life. Katie stresses the importance of talking to children about mental health, and teaching them effective strategies to interpret and deal with their emotions. For Kathleen, it’s the fun, relatable way that Katie talks about sometimes difficult topics, that makes Esther Esteem so special.

But she has also been there for Kathleen in the times where they needed each other most. “She has always been a strong person,” Kathleen says. “She has been there for me when times have been tough, and she is like a ray of sunshine.” Find out more about Esther Esteem by visiting


Photography | Matthew Bennett

“Try and understand what part you have to play in the world in which you live. There’s more to life than you know and it’s all happening out there. Discover what part you can play and then go for it.” – Ian Mckellen

June 2018 • happiful • 91

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Happiful November 2018  

November issue of Happiful magazine is here! And so is the colder weather, so get comfortable, make yourself a cuppa and settle down as we b...

Happiful November 2018  

November issue of Happiful magazine is here! And so is the colder weather, so get comfortable, make yourself a cuppa and settle down as we b...

Profile for happiful