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HOW CAN YOU HELP? “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘W hat are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King Jr


Editor’s Favourites

The Kindness Effect Martin Luther King Jr poses what could be considered a pretty big question: “What are you doing for others?” Saving the planet? Helping future generations? Changing the world? It can feel like a lot of responsibility when we think about our answer, but the truth is it could be simpler than you think. What may seem like the smallest thing to you, but could actually change someone’s personal world, is a little kindness. Something so simple, and often free, can bring some light to someone who’s going through a dark time. Never underestimate the value that you can bring to someone else’s life, with even the smallest of gestures.

This month we’re focused on the whole spectrum of ways we can support the people and world around us, with features including Lucy Watson sharing her vegan insight (and mouth-watering cheese toastie recipe), our 10-step guide to ethical shopping to make it as easy as possible for you to live crueltyfree, and the wonderful charity Scope, fighting for the rights of disabled people to live the life they choose. So when you consider how you can help, remember support and kindness can come in all forms – but all are equally valuable. Whether you use your voice to call out and fight injustice, or to show a friend they’re not alone, you have the power to make a difference. As Charles Dickens wrote: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” We’re in this together – let’s spread a little kindness while we’re here.

In aid of this, we’ve created range of gratitude cards with positive little pick-me-up messages that you can send to a friend when they need to hear it most. But don’t forget, kindness should start a little closer to home – perhaps leave one on your desk to remind yourself that you too deserve some moral support to get through a tough day.

Happy reading,

Rebecca Thair Editor

Don’t forget to join us on social media, we love getting to know you! happiful.com

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Sneak Peek of the Issue

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The CONTENTS

Reader Offer Features

The Uplift

18 Lucy Watson

8 The news in September

Her life-long relationship with counselling, venturing into the family business, and bringing veganism to the masses

32 Lady Gaga

The woman behind the public ‘pokerface’, supporting mental health and starting to show all her personal cards

36 Hypnotherapy debunked

What’s really going on in the therapy room

40 Going cruelty-free

Let’s get ethical with our 10-step guide to help you shop guilt and cruelty-free

Life Stories 29 Seeking self-acceptance

As she entered adolesence, Natalie’s vitiligo began to cause her anxiety. Today, she recognises her skin tells her story

44 The wounds I carry

Tara spent years trying to outrun grief. But learning to address it was the best thing she ever did, and gave her a new sense of belonging

61 Creating my own future

An abusive past threatened to control Christine’s life, but waking from a lifethreatening coma empowered her to take charge and change her world

87 Man up? No don’t

Following multiple suicide attempts, Oli had a revelation that he had the power to help himself, and be a voice for other men struggling in silence

12 The wellbeing wrap 14 What is ‘social masking’? 58 Clue: know your cycle

It’s time to embrace understanding our bodies – period tracking could hold the key

Striving to ensure disabled people have the opportunity to live the life they choose

Food & Drink 72 Batch cooking

Cook once, eat twice – or more! Save time, money, and make the most of each dinner

75 Eat, Shop, Save

Understanding how to eat healthy without breaking the bank, thanks to advice from the medicinal chef, Dale Pinnock

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Digital

55 Moya Angela

The Dreamgirls star on mental health in the West End, and learning to leave a role on the stage

67 Passive aggression

Recognising how the behaviour could be impacting your relationships, and how to handle it

83 Understanding ADHD

An expert guide, including advice on how to best support children diagnosed with it

16 T  he power of volunteering

Culture

26 Recognising toxic friends

48 Mindfulness journals

home away from home

HAPMAGSEP

Lifestyle & Relationships

90 Unsung hero

70 Turning university into a

ENTER CODE:

80 Scope: charity special

Happiful Hacks

52 Beat the post-holiday blues

Print

51 Our top 10 picks this month 64 Mental Wealth Festival 78 Book review

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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

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CONTRIBUTORS

ANDREA HARRN Andrea is a psychotherapist, and creator of The Mood Cards.

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Amy is a fully qualified and registered nutritional practitioner.

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Joseph Sinclair, Krishan Parmar, Alice Theobald, Joy Goodman, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Amy Prior, Janette Owen

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SPECIAL THANKS

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Ellen Hoggard, Bonnie Evie Gifford, Maurice Richmond, Fiona Thomas, Jake Taylor, Kat Nicholls, Lorraine McReight, Sara Baba, Emily Reynolds, Lucy Donoughue, Andrea Harrn, Lucy Winrow, Simon Mathias, Natalie Ambersley, Tara J Lal, Christine Clayfield, Oli Regan

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LORRAINE MCREIGHT

GRAEME ORR

Lorraine is a hypnotherapist and principal of the London Hypnotherapy Academy.

Graeme is a counsellor who specialises in relationships and advises on our life stories.

Lucy Donoughue Head of Content and Communications lucy.donoughue@happiful.com Amie Sparrow PR Manager amie.sparrow@happiful.com

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Maurice Richmond Media and Communications Officer maurice.richmond@happiful.com

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MANAGEMENT

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

Fe is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor, who advises on our content.

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Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Emma White | Director & Co-Founder Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Steve White | Finance Director

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SIMON MATHIAS Simon is a psychotherapist, writer, speaker and expert in behaviour, with a particular interest in ADHD.

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DR LUCY WINROW Lucy is a researcher for ProtectED – a new scheme for student safety and wellbeing.

FURTHER INFO

Happiful magazine is FSC certified. Please help us preserve our planet by recycling this magazine. Why not pass on your copy to a friend afterwards? Alternatively, please place it in a recycling bin. Our two-for-one tree commitment is made of two parts. Firstly, we source all our paper from FSC certified sources. The FSC label guarantees that the trees harvested are replaced, or allowed to regenerate naturally. Secondly, we will ensure an additional tree is planted for each one used, by making a suitable donation to a forestry charity. Happiful is a brand of Memiah Limited. The opinions,

views and values expressed in Happiful are those of the authors of that content and do not necessarily represent our opinions, views or values. Nothing in the magazine constitutes advice on which you should rely. It is provided for general information purposes only. We do not accept liability for products and/or services offered by third parties. Memiah Limited is a private company limited by shares and registered in England and Wales with company number 05489185 and VAT number GB 920805837. Our registered office address is Building 3, Riverside Way, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL.


Photography | Kyle Loftus

SHARE JOY “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl


The Uplift

Audeliss and INvolve founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu

GLOBAL

New fund aims to combat LGBT+ discrimination in Asia Providing grants to support activists across Asia, the fund aims to improve the lives of LGBT+ people

8 • happiful • September 2018

I’m asking business leaders to join me in looking beyond the workplace to support the global struggle for LGBT+ rights.” LGBT+ people across Asia face human rights abuses based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Globally, more than 70 countries still criminalise gay relationships. Eight countries which criminalise homosexual acts have sentences that can result in the death penalty. GiveOut’s founder and chair, Elliot Vaughn, said: “I am delighted and proud that Suki has chosen to work alongside GiveOut to grow LGBTQI philanthropy in the UK, and support queer activism in Asia. Suki is setting a wonderful example. I hope others will follow his lead.” GiveOut will consult across the LGBT+ movement in Asia to identify the focus of the new fund and discover where it can make the greatest difference. Support the fund at giveout.org/ donate by entering your donation details and including a message to indicate your donation is intended to support this fund, e.g. “Asia fund”. Bonnie Evie Gifford

LGBT+ community celebrates Pride with hidden rainbow flag in Russia Spain’s largest LGBT+ rights organisation, the Federation (FELGTB), peacefully protested what many consider to be anti-LGBT+ laws in Russia. During the World Cup, six activists from different countries each wore a shirt from their home country. Together they formed a rainbow flag, giving visibility to Pride. Since the 2013 law in Russia criminalising the promotion and distribution of materials supporting non-traditional sexual relationships to minors, research suggests hate crimes against the LGBT+ community have doubled. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this law reinforces stigma, encourages homophobia, and discriminates against a vulnerable minority. For their safety, fans were warned against participating in political protests. However the FELGTB’s Hidden Flag was a researched effort to encourage awareness to discrimination.

Photography | Suki Sandhu: Audeliss, FELGTB: thehiddenflag.org

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he Suki Sandhu LGBTQI Asia Fund has launched to support the work of activists in Asia, fight for the rights of LGBT+ people and seek an end to discrimination. Managed by the UK-based charity GiveOut, which helps to raise funds for LGBT+ causes around the world, the new fund is sponsored by Audeliss and INvolve founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu. The fund hopes to grow in order to support and fund at least £25,000 annually. Discussing the fund, Suki said: “In the UK we have been afforded a certain level of privilege, and we have a responsibility to give something back. As a gay Asian man who has grown up in the UK I realise that, despite the challenges I have faced, I have been incredibly lucky. “There are many LGBT+ people across Asia being deprived of their freedom and facing terrible persecution simply for being themselves. This is not acceptable, and we all have a duty to try to make a difference. “I’ve worked for more than a decade helping businesses harness minority talent and foster inclusive workplaces.


Positive ISSUES

TECH

Can virtual reality help our mental health? Fay Nugent experienced a fear of heights before a pioneering virtual reality treatment helped her to overcome it. Should an intriguing technological creation now be seen as a go-to method of treating our wellbeing? A fear of heights is the most common phobia for people – one in five of us have experienced it at some point in our lives

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woman who successfully overcame acrophobia has revealed how virtual reality helped her to manage her fear. Fay Nugent, who works in malaria research at Oxford University, says treatment using the technology proved a game changer, after developing the phobia in adult life. She said: “It began after I went on a girls’ weekend away. We had gone on an adventure activity called a treetop walk. “I managed to climb up to do it – but when it came to stepping out onto the high ropes, I just couldn’t do it. I felt physically ill and panicked, even though I knew I was perfectly safe.” Her fear worsened and soon reached its peak as it affected her carrying out day-to-day activities such as using escalators, and even attending a concert. The solution turned out to be close to home, as Fay heard about a virtual reality phobia therapy trial taking place at Oxford University. She successfully applied to take part in the treatment, which is backed by

Oxford VR – a spin-out company of the university – and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre. The 44 people in the treatment group each received five or six 30-minute sessions of the VR treatment over the course of two weeks, with the published results in the Lancet Psychiatry revealing that around 70% of the VR group no longer had their fear. Unfortunately, Fay was initially placed in the placebo group, however after the trial all members of this control group were given the opportunity to have the actual VR treatment. Following this, Fay revealed she is now untroubled by heights. She said: “Heights don’t worry me now. I recently managed to get on a 30m-long escalator at Helsinki airport and was absolutely fine.” The VR simulator safely puts people in the position where they can “learn to manage their fear” by wearing a headset. Patients are then asked to work their way up a 10-storey building

Patrick Bordnick, a professor at Tulane University, has revealed he is exploring how VR can be used to treat addiction. Speaking to the Financial Times, he says several studies show VR can “induce cravings” in patients to enable therapists to identify how they are triggered and how they can be treated. and complete “fear-inducing tasks”, including looking down over a high ledge and throwing balls off it. Professor Daniel Freeman, the lead researcher, said: “We wanted tasks that would be fun and engaging, and most importantly make the person look down to face their fear. “It had to be something that would teach them to feel safe with heights.” The therapy is also delivered by a virtual coach who reassures and guides the user along the way. Professor Freeman added that the therapy is soon to be piloted with some NHS clinics. Maurice Richmond

September 2018 • happiful • 9


The Uplift

SOCIETY

Variety in how we eat could be the key to long-term happiness Burgers served on slates, cocktails in mason jars – new research shows that there could be a wellbeing benefit behind these fashionable foodie trends

Babies who eat solid food sooner sleep better

n a series of studies published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that consuming things in unconventional ways enhances our enjoyment. In one study, researchers from the University of Chicago asked 68 participants to eat popcorn. Half of the group were asked to eat the popcorn normally with their hands, and the other half were asked to use chopsticks. Both groups were told to eat at a slow pace, but those who ate with chopsticks reported enjoying their popcorn a lot more than the other group. In another experiment, researchers studied how 300 people consumed water. The group were asked to come up with unconventional ways to drink it, with responses including drinking out of a martini glass, a travel mug, and lapping it like a cat.

A study from King’s College London, and St George’s, University of London, has shown that introducing solid food to babies earlier could result in a better night’s sleep. Researchers divided a group of 1,303 three-month-olds into two subgroups; one group was solely breastfed for six months, and the other was given solid foods in addition to breast milk from the age of three months. The findings showed that the babies in the group who ate solids slept longer, woke less frequently, and had fewer sleep problems. In light of this study, existing advice is now being reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, so there may be an update to the official advice in the next few years. This could be welcome news to parents in need of a few extra hours shut-eye as well. Sweet dreams!

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10 • happiful • September 2018

The group were then asked to take five sips of water and rate their enjoyment. One-third drank in the conventional way, another third used their own unconventional method, and the rest used a different method for each sip. The results showed that those who tried a different, unconventional method with each sip reported the highest level of enjoyment. Things that once made us happy, like a favourite food or a new jumper, eventually lose their appeal over time as we get used to them. Psychologists call this hedonic adaptation, and it often happens with the things that we once really enjoyed. But this research shows that mixing it up could be the key to enjoying the things that make us happy, for longer. And finding new, creative ways of enjoying things means that you may never grow tired of the things you love. Kathryn Wheeler


Positive ISSUES

KIDS

Photography | Scruff-a-Luvs: The Non-Adventures of a Stay at Home Mum, Duckling: London Fire Brigade

The toy turning playtime into a lesson in responsibility Could toys be the way to teach our children about responsibility and nurturing? One company believes it could help to reduce the number of animals ending up in rescue shelters

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ollowing research by the firm behind Scruff-a-Luvs, a toy in distress has been designed to help children provide the care it needs to restore it back to its best. Moose Toys commissioned a poll of 2,000 British parents, which found that a staggering 75% would welcome a new cat or dog into the family in the hope that it would teach their children responsibility. The survey also revealed that more than a third of British mums and dads relent to pressure and buy a pet for their family, only to regret welcoming their new addition. Sadly, as many as one in 10 families decide they cannot keep their new pet. The company behind the new toy is donating some of the proceeds from Scruff-a-Luvs sales to the RSPCA, and believes giving children exposure to a toy in need of their attention first can help pet ownership. Logan Stone from Scruff-a-Luvs said: “Deciding whether to buy a pet is a huge decision for a family, and the research reveals the desire for pet ownership in British households, bringing out children’s desire to nurture and care for another being. “We know animal rescue videos online are hugely popular. Scruff-a-Luvs are all

about animal rescue and adoption, where children can rescue a sad ball of matted fur, and through care and grooming, transform it into a plush pet.” Responding to the findings, Dr Samantha Gaines of the RSPCA reiterated the call for families to fully think things through before welcoming a new pet. She said: “In the past year we rescued and collected 114,584 animals and found new homes for more than 44,611 animals. We would urge people not to be led by how an animal looks or how cute they are but to get to know their amazing personalities. “They are all individuals with their own unique personalities and are looking for a new family to care for them and give them a forever home.” It’s not the first time that toys have been used to help children to understand important issues. In November, Happiful reported on how Second Life Toys are seeking to educate families about the importance of transplants following significant law changes in Japan. Children have been encouraged to take part by sending “donor toys” – cuddly toys no longer played with – or by requesting a donor be found to give their damaged toy a new lease of life. Maurice Richmond

Firefighters mount a rescue operation for duckling When a duckling unwittingly fell through a drain while crossing a road in Barnes, London, firefighters from Richmond were on hand to perform a quick rescue. “Once we lifted the hatch and shone some light inside, we spotted the little duckling swimming around with no way to escape,” said Jonathan Kerslake, watch manager. Using lighting, buckets and lines, crew manager Nicholas Drewett was able to scoop up the duckling and bring it up to the road. “Firefighters love animals too and we will always help if the RSPCA need us to, but we should only be called for real emergencies,” said Kerslake. While the crew were happy to take the duckling under their wing until it could be reunited with its family, the brigade is keen to remind the public that a call to the RSPCA when an animal is in distress would fit the bill nicely.

September 2018 • happiful • 11


The

wellbeing wrap You can do it! A study published in Plos One has found a statistically significant positive effect of optimism on subjective wellbeing, suggesting that positive affirmations can really impact on our mental health. Head to page 50 for gratitude cards we’ve put together for you to put on your desk, or give to a friend, for a positive pick-me up!

From cows rocking pedometers to the benefits of exploring a ‘blue environment’, here’s a quick run-down of the intriguing, inspiring and uplifting things happening in the news this month

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Horsing around Horses’ snorts can give us an insight into their emotions. A study has reviewed the behaviour of horses in various locations, and found that those in more positive, better conditioned surroundings, such as natural pastures, snorted 10 times as much as those in stalls. Findings definitely not to be snorted at.

You've go t this.

Driving change

More than 28,000 pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars have been registered to UK drivers this year so far – that’s one every nine minutes! The data revealed by the Go Ultra Low campaign, which aims to increase public understanding of electric vehicles and their benefits, also noted that the total number of electric and hybrid cars registered to UK drivers is now more than 160,000 – which is helped by the government’s “Road to Zero” strategy that has resulted in thousands of new charge points for vehicles across the UK.

Moo-ving on up

Dairy farmer Neil Brigg has been at his Far Wortshill Farm since 1976, and as you can imagine, he’s pretty fond of his bovine buddies. So much so, that he’s utilising technology to keep his cows cared for by monitoring their wellbeing. Pedometers allow Neil to check cows’ step counts, and while he’s not looking for 10,000 steps a day, he’s able to see how much they’re resting and walking – signifying how well a cow is, and whether their bedding needs adjusting. In turn, making sure the cows are as well cared for as possible is likely to yield more milk for his business. How udder-ly brilliant! 12 • happiful • September 2018

Working on it Around 54% of people with learning disabilities also have mental health problems such as depression, and are at a higher risk of experiencing mental illness than the rest of the UK population, according to the Mental Health Foundation. While “discrimination, stigma, exclusion” are key contributors, it’s also noted that only 5.8% of people with a learning disability have a paid job despite most being both able and willing to work. In response, the MHF has developed a programme called When I Grow Up to increase “work expectations, aspirations and opportunities for students with learning disabilities”, and in turn support their wellbeing.


Love’s labour’s lost While we all love a bit of romantic attention from our other half, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has revealed that being overly affectionate when first coupling up can actually be a red flag for an impending sinking relationship. The results suggested the issue at hand is that it’s difficult to maintain that initial level of affection over the long-term, and therefore it’s the “disillusionment” – as in the decline of overt affection – that signifies when a relationship may be about to hit the rocks. Perhaps a sign that a slow-burner is healthier in the long-run than lusting after a passionate whirlwind romance.

The fox and the… hedgehog It may not be the duo you’re familiar with, but it’s the pairing that’s dining together in Lucy Goacher’s back garden. Two years ago, Lucy began leaving food and water out to help some local foxy visitors, but recently a prickly pal has joined the group. While the hedgehog initially arrived after the foxes had moved on, he’s grown in confidence and now regularly dines with them. It’s proof that regardless of what divides us, with a little kindness and a little open-mindedness, we really can thrive together.

Table for two? What’s your usual dinner set-up in the evening? According to a survey by Furniture Village, more than half of us eat on our sofa more than anywhere else. However, we also recognise the value in sitting down together to eat, with 70% of people believing it positively affects family relationships. Perhaps it’s time to take couch potatoes off the menu, and get a hearty portion of family time at the table instead.

Water wonderful world

Clocking-off

Prompted by research into the benefits of natural, green environments, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School have been investigating the power of “blue environments” – those featuring water – for a decade. Not only does spending time near water promote general fitness, it also reduces stress hormones. The researchers have discovered that when choosing between images of environments, the more water featured, the more positive the reaction. Time for a trip to the beach?

The expectation for workers to be available around the clock in certain jobs is damaging employees’ mental health. The first Global Benefits Forum Survey found that 65% of employers in the financial services industry regularly expect employees to be available outside of contracted hours, with 30% of employees feeling the negative impact of this. The short-term gain of having employees on call could therefore have a long-term cost – perhaps it’s time to ban emails outside of work hours, or embrace flexible working! September 2018 • happiful • 13


The Uplift | The Explainer

What is

social masking? The feeling that we’re putting on a different face or adopting a slightly different persona is something many of us have experienced. But for some, social masking is a way of life, and seems like the only way they feel they can fit in Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford Illustrating | Rosan Magar

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e’ve all done it. That moment at work where a question arises and we just aren’t quite sure how to respond, or a friend makes a comment we think is a joke but aren’t 100% certain. We surreptitiously check to see how everyone else reacts first lest we choose the wrong thing to say. In many ways, we all practise a bit of social masking to help us avoid social faux pas. However, some of us rely on it much more than others. Social masking, also known as social camouflaging, is thought to be one of several potential reasons as to why autistic women and girls often receive a diagnosis later in life. In early 2018, a TV documentary revealed that more than half of undiagnosed autistic adults could be women – a figure that shocked researchers and experts alike. Of the 750,000 participants, more than 11% met the criteria pointing towards a diagnosis, with an unprecedented 52% of them being women. With previous studies indicating that the ratio of male to female autistic

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individuals stood at anywhere between 2:1 to 16:1, experts put forward a range of theories to explain why these results suggested women may be under-diagnosed. The conscious and subconscious use of social masking is one of several popular explanations. Psychiatrist Dr Louis Kraus specialises in autism. He suggests that, while the indicators of autism can be less obvious in women, many learn to mimic the behaviour of others around them, helping them to mask their difficulties in understanding social norms and cues. Experts think girls and women may do this more often, as they want to socialise, be part of the group, and make friends, which can lead to them attempting to mimic the behaviour of their peers. Autistic girls may also be more likely to recognise the signs of social expectations, even if they don’t fully understand or are unable to meet them. This can include mimicking facial expressions, memorising acceptable topics of conversation, and adopting physical behaviours observed

in others, such as maintaining eye contact during a conversation. While social masking may seem like a positive way to learn social cues through practise, many mimic these interactions, rather than fully understanding them. This form of social camouflaging, while helping individuals to blend in, can also delay diagnosis and support. Many who practise social masking report still feeling disconnected or overlooked in social situations. To an outsider, they may appear to bounce between activities, conversations or groups, as they struggle to connect or have trouble recognising typically expected responses and behaviours. To combat this, many will create a “social script” of conversational phrases that can be reused when required, or copy social behaviour from friends and sometimes even TV shows.

Can it increase anxiety?

Those who regularly use social masking to cope with everyday interactions and situations may experience higher levels of anxiety


Trending UPDATE

Many create a ‘social script’ of phrases that can be reused when required, or copy social behaviour from friends and TV shows

than their peers, as they struggle to understand social situations and cues that others take for granted. Many report feeling mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted following social interactions, as they may be consciously tracking the body language, facial expressions, language, and reactions of those around them to try to mimic social cues and expectations. In some cases, the individual may be doing this while also suppressing any behaviours or actions that may be deemed socially inappropriate or out of the norm, such as common self-stimulatory (or stimming) behaviours. This can lead to increased anxiety and self-doubt and, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Autism, with higher levels of social camouflaging also associated with higher levels of depression.

Without diagnosis, some experts believe autistic women may not recognise the signs that they are socially masking, and may believe that a level of exhaustion following social interactions is something everyone experiences. The same study defined social camouflaging as the difference between how people seem in social contexts, and what is really happening to them on the inside. This can cover a broad spectrum of things, from suppressing repetitive behaviours, to avoiding talking excessively about special interests, pretending to follow conversations, or mimicking other neurotypical behaviours.

Why use it?

If it can be so exhausting, why do people use social masking? Some use it to connect with friends, find a partner,

or land a better job. Others use it as a defence mechanism, to protect themselves from being shunned, or just to seem “normal”. While it may seem like an easy suggestion for people to just “be themselves”, social camouflaging can be a reassuring way for those who struggle to connect to take part in social situations, where they might otherwise feel out of their depth. Can it have its downsides? Of course. But with time to practise and implement self-care routines and techniques that can help to relax, unwind, and recharge – combined with professional support to learn healthy coping strategies – social masking can be a helpful tool that non-neurotypical individuals can use to feel more comfortable and accepted in a largely neurotypical world.

September 2018 • happiful • 15


Happiful Hack

Volunteering something back Kind-hearted volunteers create the vital bedrock that supports many organisations in doing their great work. And it turns out that sparing some time to help others is also very beneficial to our own mental health Writing | Maurice Richmond Illustrating | Rosan Magar

VOLUNTEER 5,000 / 9,481

no.

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BONUS BENEFITS


Life LESSONS

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or countless charities across the country, the value of financial donations cannot be underestimated. However, it is the time of volunteers that is truly priceless. Indeed, many of the causes featured in Happiful need more of our time to help them continue their work. But they aren’t the only ones who benefit, as volunteering can help our own wellbeing too. Research from Mind found that 89% of its volunteers said helping the mental health charity builds their own confidence, allows them to develop new skills, and provides work experience. Mind employs 3,347 people – but relies on support from a further 9,481 volunteers. So never underestimate the role you can play to help keep charities and schemes afloat, while supporting your own mental health. Here are three reasons why you should consider volunteering, and how it could give you that wellbeing boost as an added bonus:

1 The happiness effect

Researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE) believe they have found a pretty simple formula: the more we volunteer, the happier we are likely to be. The LSE found that compared to people who never volunteer, feeling “very happy” increased by 7% among those giving their time to support causes every month. For those volunteering every two to four weeks,

Numerous studies reveal that spending time with a dog or cat can top up our levels of serotonin and dopamine

there was a 12% increase. For those volunteering every week, feeling “very happy” increased by 16%. Just 200 hours of volunteering per year could lower your blood pressure, according to one expert. Even half that time shows clear health benefits. How can this be? A Harvard Medical School study suggests that if you worry about not being physically active, then volunteer work is a good option. Rodlescia Sneed, an assistant professor in public health at Michigan State University, said: “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with stress reduction, and we know that stress is strongly linked to health outcomes.” What’s more, who said it’s only about volunteering with humans? Numerous studies reveal that spending time with a dog or cat can top up our levels of serotonin and dopamine, to help keep us happy. Donating your time to an animal charity could be a good place to start.

2 Sense of purpose

When we are at a low ebb, meaning and purpose can be difficult to find, which can put us at risk of feeling lonely and isolated. Yet volunteering for a few hours a week can fill that void. No matter who you are, there are plenty of ways to give your life new meaning by helping others. This is supported in a blog post from mental health charity SANE, highlighting “loss of social roles” as a consequence of isolation. According to the blog: “Volunteering can help to alleviate and reverse any such negative impact resulting from the breakdown of social integration associated with mental illness.” Isolation is commonly associated with older generations, but think again. The Community Life Survey, looking at trends in areas like volunteering, found those aged 16–24 were the most likely to report feeling lonely, while those aged 25–34 came next.

The National Council For Voluntary Organisations revealed that significant numbers of young people are taking action to resolve this loneliness by volunteering, with 20% of 16 to 25-yearolds giving some of their time to causes once a month.

3 A bit of perspective

Many of us may not be aware of the impact a different perspective can have on our life and our health. Providing a helping hand to those less fortunate than us is cathartic, and can lead us to realise how lucky we are. The ultimate aim is not to feel worse, but for us to have a more positive outlook.

No matter who you are, there are plenty of ways to give your life new meaning by helping others If this has motivated you to volunteer, then consider some sound advice from the Mental Health Foundation. Make sure you’re giving your time in a sector you enjoy. Interested in sports, arts, or health? There are plenty of causes out there for you. Remember, you are putting the needs of others before your own – but don’t overdo it. Work out a schedule you can keep to. Finally, keeping a diary of your volunteering can serve as a reminder of the good you are doing when you feel down.

How to get involved

There are many ways you can get involved in volunteering and help to make a difference in your community. For more information, visit the National Council For Voluntary Organisations at ncvo.org.uk September 2018 • happiful • 17


Beginning ONLY THE

From her animal rights activism, to showing her fiercely loyal side in Made in Chelsea, Lucy Watson is synonymous with passion. And over the years, she’s followed that by launching her own vegan restaurant in May, and writing the bestselling vegan book of Veganuary 2018. One thing’s for sure, Lucy’s not one to be underestimated; she’s proven herself to be an intelligent and driven businesswoman, who genuinely cares about the world around her and wants to make a difference. But how did she get here? In our candid chat, Lucy talks about her life-long relationship with counselling, her vegan journey, and finding her happy ending with her partner and MIC castmate James Dunmore. And above all what shines through is that she still has so much more to give...

Interview | Ellen Hoggard

Photography | Joseph Sinclair


There's Something About Lucy

Shirt | Free People, Jeans | Frame Denim

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Positive CHANGE

I “

hate to think people are out there with problems, who don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, and don’t know what to do or where to turn,” says Lucy Watson, who first came to the public eye in 2012 when she joined the cast of Made In Chelsea, and has since made a name for herself as a businesswoman, author and animal rights activist. “I would recommend counselling to anyone,” she continues. “It’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself.” It’s a warm lunchtime in May at our cover shoot, and Lucy is perched on a makeup stool, biting into a vegan brownie and chatting about her experiences with counselling, breaking into the family business, and what she’s most known for now: the wonders of vegan cooking. With her award-winning debut cookbook, Feed Me Vegan, along with a vegan eatery under her belt, and a brand new book – Feed Me Vegan: For All Occasions – launching soon, she’s somewhat of an expert on the subject. I tell Lucy how excitedly my friends flicked through the pages of her first book, recommending their favourite recipes. “That’s the thing with these books, they’re not only for vegans,” she says. “They’re for everybody.” Having bought it myself, I can vouch for that. I’m not vegan, but the recipes are delicious, nutritious and simple to make – not to mention affordable. And that’s one of the things Lucy wants from these books; to make vegan food more accessible. All you need is a taste for flavour and a willingness to try something new – something Lucy recognises with her own transition to veganism. “As you learn more about food; the nutrients you get from plants and how healthy it can be, I think you start to

My sister is my best friend. It’s so nice working with someone you completely trust, and someone who you agree with on almost everything appreciate vegetables a lot more,” she says, and having become vegan two years ago, Lucy is aware there is still so much to learn. “I’m on a journey myself and I think the people buying the book are on the journey with me.” The more I speak to Lucy, the more I realise who she is. The tough, strong exterior we saw back in the MIC days certainly remains, but there is so much more to her. She is determined in her business ventures, but also a passionate, sensitive woman who loves animals and wants to do all she can – in her own life and the world around her – to protect them. Given that Lucy spent much of her childhood living on a farm, her love of animals comes as no surprise. And while this passion has influenced her career and taste for vegan eating, this wasn’t always the case. She recalls being much more difficult as a child – with less culinary flair – living on a diet consisting mostly of macaroni cheese and pancakes. Her dad Clive – chairman of the City Pub group and an experienced businessman – was more traditional when it came to mealtimes though. Meat was always a part of their dinners, but when Lucy learned exactly what it was, she was devastated. “I remember being very upset,” she says. “I was hurt and angry – I felt tricked.”

She refused to eat meat after this, and it wasn’t long before her mum and sister Tiffany followed suit. When her parents separated shortly after, Lucy and Tiff lived with their mum, and continued their childhood in a primarily vegetarian household. Being so young when her parents separated wasn’t easy. In fact, this led Lucy to her first experience of counselling. “I’ve had counselling my whole life,” she says. “I started it when I was young and really struggled with my parents’ divorce.” It’s clear when speaking to Lucy just how important family is to her. Her dad in particular (who has made several appearances on MIC alongside his two daughters) has been a key influence in her latest venture. In May this year, Lucy, her dad and Tiffany opened a vegan eatery, Tell Your Friends, in London. Continues>>>

Quickfire Q&A Favourite meal? Spaghetti carbonara (book 1) Broccoli cream pasta (book 2) Go-to breakfast? Tofu scramble with avocado on toast Hangover food? Tofish and chips and sticky toffee pudding Go-to order at Tell Your Friends? Buddha bowl and jackfruit chicken bites Post-workout snack? Energy balls and/or a vegan protein shake

September 2018 • happiful • 21


There's Something About Lucy

“My sister is my best friend, so we work well together,” Lucy explains. “We’re both quite headstrong and know what we want, but we have similar ideas. It’s so nice working with someone you completely trust, and who you agree with on almost everything.” When not writing a book, or opening a restaurant, she is tirelessly building her brand. Lucy smiles as she talks through all her current projects, the fond memories of working on MIC, and hopes for the future. She’d like to return to TV, but only for the right thing – Lucy will only work on projects or with brands whose values reflect her own. But with animal causes and charities close to her heart, she is a busy woman. She’s an ambassador for PETA, supporting them by raising awareness wherever she can – “it’s

Over the years, Lucy’s learnt what she needs from a counsellor in order to really benefit from therapy. “I’ve had some really bad counselling sessions, where it feels like they’re just saying what they think they should say, or like they are not listening to what I’m telling them,” she says. But it was her last counsellor, around three years ago, who really helped her. “She was so intelligent; her way of looking at situations was amazing. It’s so easy to get lost in your thoughts, but a good counsellor is one who can help you untangle them, and understand what they mean.” Something that’s been prominent in the headlines recently has been the mental health of individuals involved in reality TV. So naturally, I’m intrigued to hear how Lucy found the support offered to those on MIC, in the form of counsellors. “I’m not a very trusting person, and I think they struggled with that with me,” Lucy says. “I got less and less trusting as time went on and I think eventually that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Towards the end, I wasn’t willing to cooperate with the counselling; I’d rather source my own counsellor.” In the past, her struggle with trust is something that has affected other aspects of her life. “I had major trust issues in relationships; I was reading into things the wrong way,” she says. “I didn’t even trust my own opinion.” Having had difficulties with trust, joining the cast of MIC at just 21 and navigating life and new-found fame in the public eye for four years, until she left in 2016, can’t have been easy. “I wouldn’t say there were particular challenges for me on the show. The

What got me through was learning that everyone is going through similar things. I owed it to the viewers to be real as simple as if they ask me to do something, I’ll do it, because I trust them” – but wants to get more involved and really “get her hands dirty” with animal sanctuaries in particular. “I want to be in on the action with these people that are doing amazing things. They’re the people I look up to.” It seems Lucy has everything figured out, but she’s still human. Having counselling as a child wasn’t the only time she sought support for her mental health, and Lucy has continued to see a counsellor on and off her whole life “for pretty much anything – relationships, work or emotions”.

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thing that I struggled with the most was the editing; you forget on a TV show that it’s about ratings,” she notes. And this is something many of us viewers can forget too. Consider Big Brother, or Love Island – there's so much going on that we don’t see. Life isn’t one-dimensional, and while many of us will see Lucy through the screens of our TVs or phones, having her sit beside me talking about her life, I remember how much of what we think we know, isn’t true at all. “I felt a pressure to be the source of drama, which in reality, is very different to who I am,” Lucy explains. “I found it hard to perform some days – if it was a particularly emotionally driven situation. But what got me through was learning that everyone is going through similar things. I owed it to the viewers to be real.” Despite its ups and downs, MIC is a part of her life. In fact, it’s where she met her long-term boyfriend, James Dunmore. “I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” she says. As we speak about leaving the show, I’m curious to know whether these pressures have eased off, despite working so much on her other projects and having quite the following on social media (1.4 million Instagram followers and counting). Lucy responds with a fresh breath. “Oh it’s completely eased off,” she says. “I think that now I’m in a steady relationship, people are maybe comforted by it.” With such a supportive following, Lucy believes her honesty and realness both on and off the show have paid off. “I think they like the fact that there was a journey, and now it’s come out in a happy ending.” We agree that this is a natural part of life; as you start to settle down, everyone is happy for each other. Continues >>>


Denim jumpsuit | J Brand, available at Net-A-Porter

Positive CHANGE

September 2018 • happiful • 23


Lucy Watson: XXXXXXX

LUCY'S GO-TO

This has to be one of my favourite quick lunches. The flavours go so well together; the mustard gives everything a nice kick, especially when combined with the maple for that touch of sweetness. I use Violife’s ready-sliced cheese, but you can use whichever you prefer. The ready-sliced is perfect for toasties though...

SERVES 1 | 10 MINS 2 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp fresh dill ½ tsp maple syrup 2 slices of good-quality crusty bread 50g vegan Cheddar cheese, grated 70g beetroot and red cabbage sauerkraut 2 tsp vegan butter In a bowl, mix the mustard with the dill and maple syrup, then spread this mixture on one side of each piece of bread. Layer the cheese and sauerkraut onto one slice, then put the remaining slice of bread on top and squash down firmly. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the sandwich and cook on both sides until it's golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve.

4 • happiful • September 2018

Denim blazer and jeans | Waven, Shoes | Melissa

Grilled cheese & sauerkraut toasted sandwich


“As a group of friends, you all go through changes at the same time,” she says. “It’s weird how your conversations change and adapt as you move on in life. They go from talking about boys and parties, to work, to your home and even babies and marriage – suddenly you think: ‘Oh my God, I’m becoming my mum!’” James, who recently opened up about his grief after losing his two sisters to cystic fibrosis, fully supports Lucy and her work – you’ll even spot him in her books. But while being Lucy’s partner in crime, he’s working on his own stuff too.

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

In terms of my wellbeing and energy, I feel so much better for what I’m eating, and probably do feel happier He recently returned from a charity trip to Borneo with Barnardo's, and is now preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust; an incredible endeavour that must bring up a mixture of emotions, both painful and rewarding. “It really is and it’s been tough on him,” says Lucy, fully supportive of this new venture.“He said Borneo was one of the most amazing things he’s ever done. He loves sports, fitness activities, anything that’s challenging, but he also wants to raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis.” And while Lucy is quite the fitness fanatic herself, she isn’t sure whether she’d consider taking on such a challenge. “Maybe I would,” she says. “But James and I do everything

together and our lives cross over in a lot of ways, so I’m happy he’s found something he’s really passionate about.” When it comes to fitness, yoga is Lucy’s game, as a means to find some quiet in an otherwise loud mind. “I think yoga and meditation are one of the best things you can do,” she says. “If you have a good instructor, it can change your life.” And while she’s taken advantage of positive outlets such as this, Lucy recognises that she’s extremely lucky to have not had any serious mental health issues. “I’ve always been quite stable with my mental health. I’m very black and white and generally know when something’s wrong,” she says. “Mum encouraged us to talk about things so I usually know how to fix a problem – I haven’t come across anything in my life where I’ve been like: ‘I don’t know what this is and I don’t know how to overcome it.’ I’m very lucky. “But in terms of my general wellbeing and energy, I feel so much better for what I’m eating, and probably do feel happier. When you have more energy and feel good, obviously it affects your mood.” As the finishing touches are applied, we can’t help but turn the conversation back to her book and any advice she has for those looking to make a change in their lives. “Vegan living is growing and more people are moving in that direction, but a lot of people who aren’t ready to go vegan fully are having meat-free days, or vegan weekends,” she says. The prospect of change can be overwhelming, but books like hers can make it less daunting – almost like a bridge between two extremes. “My advice is to research everything. Watch documentaries

and absorb it all – and get a good cookbook,” she says. “The first two weeks are the hardest, almost like breaking an addiction, but after that you stop missing the foods you were eating before. “I’m so excited to do the book tour,” she says. “Meeting all these amazing people trying to make a change; it’s like a group of friends. I’m excited – I just want to help people.” I consider our conversation as we say goodbye. Yes, she’s an author, and yes, she’s the woman from Made In Chelsea, but she’s more than that. Passionate and determined, Lucy has so much to bring, and sure enough, she’s just getting started. ‘Feed Me Vegan: For All Occasions’ by Lucy Watson is out on 6 September (Sphere, £18.99). Follow Lucy on Instagram @LucyWatson

CREDITS:

Hair and makeup | Alice Theobald using Sukin and Burt’s Bees skincare, Cosmetics à la Carte, Inika, Barry M, Cover FX makeup, Eylure lashes and Lanza haircare Styling | Krishan Parmar

September 2018 • happiful • 25


Happiful Hack

4

WAYS FORWARD

HOW TO DEAL WITH

TOXIC FRIENDSHIPS With friends like these… you need to be careful, as a poisonous relationship can have a serious impact on your mental and physical health. It’s time to detox your diary Writing | Fiona Thomas

W

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

e all have that one friend who brings out the best in us. That one mate who gives us the confidence to take on the world and, when we don’t have any self-belief, shouts: “You can do this!” When things get tough, there’s nothing better than showing up at your best friend’s house unannounced, knowing that they’ll drop everything to make you a fresh cuppa and help you get back on top of things. Friendships like these can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health, with an Australian study showing that participants with solid friend groups were 22% more likely to live longer. 26 • happiful • September 2018

Additionally, a report from the Office for National Statistics in 2014 claimed that, even from a young age, children have higher levels of wellbeing when they have good social relationships with family and friends. Even as an adult your friends can have an ongoing impact on your health. A study conducted by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London reported that “having a well-integrated friendship network is a source of psychological wellbeing among middle-aged adults”. It’s suggested that people who are more socially integrated can even live longer and are less likely to experience specific disease outcomes such as heart attacks and upper respiratory illnesses. It’s worth addressing the fact then, that toxic relationships need to be dealt with in order to maintain a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. But how do we do that?


Life LESSONS

3 Set boundaries

If you feel uncomfortable or angry about how you’re being treated, try setting your own boundaries. For example, maybe your friend makes comments about your clothes, which make you feel self-conscious. Make a deal with yourself that the next time this happens you’ll calmly address it instead of ignoring it. If your friend insists on putting you in situations where you feel unhappy, set a boundary that you’ll stay for 10 minutes, but then it’s OK to leave. You don’t need to answer every single message or call from them, so setting a rule that you don’t check your phone after a certain time is a good way to set a precedent that you’re not on call 24/7. Remember, you’re in control and no one else should be making decisions for you.

1 Get some space

Being constantly in someone else’s pocket is bound to give you a heightened sense of anxiety. So if you think you might be part of a toxic friendship, you should start by creating some space to see if that helps you relax. Every relationship has its own unique dynamic of course, but it can be hard to separate yourself from someone who is displaying harmful behaviour if you don’t recognise it in the first place. Talk to someone you trust — ideally someone who doesn’t know your friend — and ask them to give you an impartial opinion on the situation as you try to tackle the problem.

2 Identify the problem

According to clinical psychologist Dr Susan Heitler, there are several signs that a friendship may be toxic – including being in competition with each other, feeling like you’re listening to their problems but never able to share your own, and constantly receiving criticism in an unkind manner. Your friend may even bring out the worst in you, and you could find yourself saying and doing things you later regret because you felt manipulated or pressured into acting in a certain way, to meet someone else’s twisted expectations. Once you identify the problem, you can start to consider the best way to address it without causing too much drama.

Signs include being in competition with each other, and constantly receiving criticism 4 Create a support network

If you still want to stay in contact with your friend, try to minimise the amount of time you spend with them so that they don’t continue to drain you, and have a knock-on effect on other aspects of your life. A good way to help balance this out is to ensure you spend time with the friends who do make you feel good, as this will help recharge the positive aspects of your personality. Make these people a priority in your life, give them the time they deserve, and you’ll reap the benefits from an amazing network of supportive, genuine friends who lift you up instead of bringing you down. September 2018 • happiful • 27


The Search for Self-Acceptance

Photography | Ian Schneider

THERE’S A BIG WIDE WORLD OUT THERE 28 • happiful • September 2018

“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem


Natalie’s Story

Photography | Serena Reidy Photography

The skin I’m in Having spent her life coming to terms with the skin condition vitiligo, Natalie Ambersley discovered a new type of treatment that transformed her confidence in herself, and her appreciation for the story her skin reveals

I

n 1984, at just two years old, I developed vitiligo – a long-term skin condition where white skin cells stop making pigment, causing white patches to form on the skin. At first, it started rather innocently as a small patch on the back of my hand, no bigger than a five pence piece. However, by the time I was four years old, the patches had spread, turning my once caramel-coloured skin 70% white.

Soon after diagnosis, my parents began their search for a cure, with endless trips to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, quickly becoming the norm. Being so young, I had no idea that I was different, or what having this skin condition would mean for me later in life. In the early stages, my parents were advised on all the treatment options, which weren’t many for someone my age. We started with a highly potent steroid cream,

then homeopathy, Chinese herbal medicine, patient trials and altering my diet. As long as it was safe, anything was worth a try. To try to find the root cause, I had to have blood tests to check my thyroid, which would leave me screaming and blubbering because I was terrified of needles. My mum would grip me tightly, her hands pressed over my eyes, so that I didn’t look. It was a traumatic ordeal, not just for me, but for my parents as well. Continues >>>

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The Search for Self-Acceptance

Natalie’s Story

Natalie’s parents ensured she grew up happy, not worried about being different to the other kids

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Soon after my 12th birthday, my parents decided to abandon all forms of treatment. I had given up on ever being cured, and was frustrated with the endless trips to the hospital that were proving to be a waste of time. When they told me I wouldn’t have to go anymore, I was relieved. Vitiligo only really became an issue during my teens. Alongside dealing with the usual pressures, I had my unpredictable skin condition to deal with. My friends would say: “It’s not that bad.” I desperately wanted to believe them, but couldn’t see past the patches on my skin. My confidence and self-esteem dived, and I gradually became insecure with who I was. I’m not sure what triggered the idea of treatment again, 15 years later, but I recall seeing threads about UVB Narrowband – a type of light treatment – on social media and the Vitiligo Society. The reviews were very mixed though. For some it had helped them regain a significant amount of pigment in their skin, while others were left disappointed. Nevertheless, I was curious and wanted to find out whether my case was severe enough to warrant a referral to the hospital.

Two weeks later, after visiting my GP, I left with the letter I needed to start the treatment. I sat in the hospital waiting room anxiously anticipating the dermatologist’s arrival. When she did, she began shading the areas where I was affected onto a figure on a piece of paper. Knowing my body for as long as I have, even I was shocked to see just how much vitiligo had invaded it. I knew I had made the right decision. The potential risks did make me nervous though – itchy skin, a chance my vitiligo could worsen, and the possibility my skin would burn under the light. Worst of all, there was a 1% chance of skin cancer, which terrified me. Family and friends were supportive of my decision, and understood my frustrations as a woman with vitiligo. All of them apart from one friend, that is, who was horrified that I wanted to drastically change. “Why are you trying to change who you are?” she asked. “Your skin is fine as it is, because it’s what makes you, you.” I didn’t see what she saw though. All I saw was someone who had placed restrictions on her life because of her skin, and I’d had enough.

Photography | Serena Reidy Photography

Despite all this, growing up I was a happy child. My parents refused to hide me away, ensuring I wore dresses to school, and shorts and T-shirts during the summer. They were adamant that I wouldn’t grow up thinking I was different. Of course people stared, some implying that my mum had left me to burn in a fire, but she mostly dealt with ignorance by explaining it or ignoring them. My skin was the first thing children would target if they wanted to hurt me. Certain kids would refrain from touching me from fear they would catch it, or tell me that my skin resembled a cow or a zebra. I learned to be resilient to the occasional jibe, but it still hurt and quickly made me question why I didn’t look the same as everyone else.


True LIFE

I pushed the risks to the back of my mind every time I stepped inside the UV cabinet, which was essentially an upright tanning booth. Naked and with the door closed, the timer would be set to a few seconds, gradually building up to minutes as my body got used to the routine. On treatment days, I couldn’t wear jewellery, makeup, moisturiser or perfume because they contain ingredients sensitive to light, which could cause burning. That would make for an anxious journey to the hospital, with my makeup-free face exposed for all to see. In the first few months, I refused to leave the house without makeup on, so I applied before I left home and removed it when I arrived at the hospital. A complete waste of time, waste of makeup, and to top it all, the nurses would often tell me off for it! Eventually, as I cared less about what people thought, I left home

makeup-free, with the breeze touching my natural face. It felt so invigorating. But the good news is that I began seeing the pigmentation return to my skin after three months. I’d observe my skin every night, getting excited when I noticed another new patch of brown appearing. It felt like a miracle was unravelling before my eyes. I was relieved when I was officially discharged from the hospital 14 months later. My skin had miraculously repigmented, reducing my white patches down to around 30%. I couldn’t believe how different I looked with the skin colour I had been born with. Soon after, I experienced my first beach holiday. I can’t explain the excitement I felt as I shopped for new swimwear and clothes that allowed me to show off my skin. I felt like a new person. I still have vitiligo on my body. My hands are the worst – bright

Natalie now blogs about her experience to inspire and support others with vitiligo

white with random brown spots – and I have patches on my arms and legs. The only difference now is that I’ve learnt to accept my skin because it’s part of the story that makes me who I am. While I did embark on a journey of treatment to try and erase my past, I’m glad some of it still remains, because without vitiligo I wouldn’t have been who I was then – and especially not now. Natalie is a blogger who shares her journey with vitiligo at beingjustus.co.uk. To learn more about the condition, please visit: vitiligosociety.org.uk

Our Expert Says Natalie’s story is one of perseverance, strength, and hope. Her supportive parents ensured she had a happy childhood, despite having to deal with others’ cruel words. As she grew older though, the idea of “being different” affected her self-confidence. Many of us will identify with the feeling of not fitting in. What Natalie realised was that it was how she saw herself that mattered, not the perceptions of others. With an open mind, she was brave enough to try a new treatment. Natalie reminds us that we can all be happy in our own skin! Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

September 2018 • happiful • 31


Photography | Tinseltown / shutterstock.com

LEAVING

Lady Gaga On stage, and on screen, Lady Gaga exudes the kind of outlandish confidence befitting of the woman so intent on taking up David Bowie’s mantle. But behind the million-dollar productions and lavish outfits, the real Stefani Germanotta remains wracked in a constant battle against herself Writing | Jake Taylor


Real TALK

Photography | Kathy Hutchins / shutterstock.com

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hen Stefani Germanotta burst into the global consciousness as exuberant alterego Lady Gaga, the music industry accepted her as the heir apparent to glam rockers such as David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Madonna. Her 2011 career-defining anthem, Born This Way, only further cemented the idea that the songstress was not just an accomplished singer-songwriter, but also a visual performer of the highest calibre. And off stage, too, Gaga was unerringly living up to her own billing with a variety of iconic red-carpet appearances. But behind these highprofile antics, lay a real-life musician who remains nearly as inscrutable as the character she created to own the limelight. And while the career of Lady Gaga continued to hit new heights, more of Stefani Germanotta began to peek out. “I grew up feeling very isolated and I've dealt with depression for many years, which is something that runs in my family,” she explains. “When I was dealing with depression, music was my only way out.” Gaga’s earlier work deals explicitly with the way in which her on-stage alias provided a way for Stefani to succeed in the glaringly cut-throat world of showbusiness. If the New York native’s sensitive nature remained the tell that threatened to expose her inner anxieties, then Gaga was the “Poker Face” she hid behind in full view of the paparazzi’s flashbulbs. Come 2015, however, and the equilibrium between Gaga and Germanotta was changing. Perhaps the lacklustre reception to her third album Artpop, a characteristically colourful celebration of all things Gaga, provoked a shift. Or maybe the acclaim she received for several

I don't have to feel ashamed that it happened. I went through this, but I'm stronger now, and I'm not alone, and I'm not the dirt on the bottom of people's shoes because I went through this. I'm still the talented, educated woman that I know myself to be

Attending the 88th Annual Academy Awards in LA, 2016

outings in which Stefani had taken the fore inspired a new-found sense of confidence. Albums such as Joanne – which saw Gaga strip back the extroversion – indicated that there was far more to come from Stefani Germanotta, albeit if it still resides within Lady Gaga’s back-catalogue. And that same year that Artpop failed to make headlines, a soul-wrenching rendition of ‘Til It Happens To You’, a song penned for campus rape culture documentary The Hunting Ground and inspired by her own experiences of sexual assault, spread across the internet like wildfire. “It happened 10 years ago... It stays in your body, in your tissues, physically in you,” she said of the real-life experiences behind the track. “I feel physical pain and there”s a lot of other people who suffer from chronic pain that have been through a traumatic experience.”

Her performance of the Academy Award-nominated song alongside fellow survivors of sexual assault helped Stefani “breakthrough” the invisible barriers she had erected around herself for protection. “I will never forget it because I’m forever changed, because I don’t have to hide anymore,” she said at the time. “I don’t have to feel ashamed that it happened. I went through this, but I’m stronger now, and I’m not alone, and I’m not disgusting, and I’m not the dirt on the bottom of people’s shoes because I went through this. I’m still the talented, educated woman that I know myself to be.” It may have taken a while for Stefani to unfurl from within her shell, but there’s no doubting that the performance allowed her to take that step, and was indicative of how she, as Gaga, had been helping her fanbase for years. Continues >>>

September 2018 • happiful • 33


Behind the Poker Face: Stefani Germanotta

“I need to be honest and authentic as possible and try to talk about bullying and helping people who feel alone and different,” Gaga says. “I’ve experienced what it means to feel very alone, and so I feel very close to people who also suffered from that. I’ve always wanted to help people deal with that – that’s my nature. It’s also been important to me to have received a lot of feedback from fans around the world who have written to me or spoken to me about their experiences. “As an artist, you want to be able to reach out and help people in whatever way you can and say something meaningful. When you become famous, you wonder how you want to use your ability to influence others. I've always felt it was important to be an activist when it comes to issues that are personal and relevant to my own life.” This aspect of Gaga’s mission has manifested itself as the Born This Way Foundation. The organisation, co-founded by the star and her mother Cynthia in 2011, seeks to raise awareness, fight stigma, and provide support for young people suffering 34 • happiful • September 2018

But when I'm acting I don't feel the same need to have that creative and artistic control. I love the fact that I don't have to be in charge. It's like sex, you don't always want to be on top! from mental illness. For Gaga, the Foundation provides an opportunity for her to work sideby-side with two things held most dear to her: her fans and her family, with Cynthia now also a registered Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor. Gaga may have provided solace for those fans negotiating their own personal struggles through the medium of her work, but for the singer herself there is always more to be done. Recently she’s moved into TV and film, where the lines between Germanotta and Gaga become ever more blurred. Her first foray on screen as the Countess in American Horror Story was the perfect vehicle for Germanotta/Gaga to “express pain and anguish, to bring those emotions to the surface and then get rid of them”. But if the Countess was more in line with Gaga’s extroverted sensuality and courage, then the 2017 documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two was a deep dive into the artist behind the act and the “paranoia, fear, body pain and anxiety” that plagued her in the half decade prior to the film’s release. And this year, audiences may get a glimpse of a halfway point between Gaga’s TV debut and the raw documentary subject. In A Star Is Born, Stefani appears alongside Bradley Cooper as an aspiring musician struggling with personal

anxieties that threaten to prematurely curtail any potential career in the industry. “People always tell me they like the way I sing,” says a naturally raven-haired Stefani in the trailer. “But they don’t like the way I look.” It’s a sentiment echoed by the star – “Directors have often rejected me in the past for having too big a nose, or for my hair being too brown instead of blonde” – and although she’s now firmly found her footing in Hollywood off the back of her acting endeavours, those same idiosyncrasies remain. “When I’m on stage, I’m very critical about everything and I’m constantly evaluating every aspect of my performances,” she says. “But when I’m acting I don’t feel the same need to have that creative and artistic control. I love the fact that I don’t have to be in charge. It’s like sex, you don’t always want to be on top! When I finish a scene, I’m not worrying about my performance. I don’t allow myself that luxury when I’m giving a concert… So acting is very freeing in that way, even though it’s also dangerous because you’re often forced to dig into memories and go back to painful places in your own life. “But I can’t f***ing breathe when I’m watching myself. Literally my stomach hurts, I need to hide. But it depends. I like when I can watch it and I like it. And then other times, I’m just going: ‘Why did they use that take? Why didn’t I do it this way?’ I’m constantly thinking about how I can make myself

Film still | A Star Is Born: Warner Bros.

Stefani in her upcoming feature film, ‘A Star Is Born’


Images | Stefani plane, Instagram: @ladygaga, American Horror Story: FX Networks

Real TALK

Stefani in ‘American Horror Story’

better. I’m never having a glass of champagne, patting myself on the back.” It seems A Star is Born may go some way to exorcising the lasting anxieties that have dogged Gaga’s career, in the arena she’s most comfortable in: centre stage. With every new glimpse of Stefani we are privileged too, however, there is a sense that Lady Gaga is no longer a moniker synonymous with hiding insecurities, as she is a vehicle for possibly the most genuine entertainer in showbusiness. “When I become very emotional, I often feel very confused,” she concludes. “I’m a very sensitive woman and that has nothing to do with being famous or anything else. “My world is amazing, my life is amazing but when everything stops and it’s very quiet, it’s pretty lonely.

I miss my family so much. I wish I could be with them all the time because I think underneath all of it, everything I do is for them

I miss my family so much. I wish I could be with them all the time because I think underneath all of it, everything I do is for them, for my little sister, Natali, for my mum and for my dad. I think they’re the only people in the whole world who really understand me and accept me for who I am. Lots of people scream for me, but they do love me. Love is the hardest thing. I know because it’s something I sacrifice every day.” Follow Stefani on Instagram @ladygaga

September 2018 • happiful • 35


Myths and Misconceptions

Hypnotherapy debunked Writing | Kat Nicholls and Lorraine McReight

Sorting fact from fiction when it comes to hypnotherapy

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Demystifying HYPNOTHERAPY

H

ere at Happiful we’re big believers in finding the right support for you, whatever that may be. We’re all unique and there’s rarely a one-sizefits-all therapy. And, thankfully, there are plenty of different therapies out there to explore and find out what works for us. One particular type we want to focus on here, which often has an air of mystery surrounding it and a lot of misconceptions on what to expect, is hypnotherapy.

How does it work?

When we are in a deep state of relaxation, it is believed that our unconscious mind becomes more susceptible to suggestion. This means

that when a hypnotherapist invites us into this state and uses suggestion techniques, our thought patterns and behaviours can be encouraged to change. As a result, this can be particularly helpful for changing habits, overcoming anxiety and easing stress. It’s even been recognised by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. However, there are a few myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnotherapy which can put people off. To sort fact from fiction, we asked hypnotherapist Lorraine McReight to tell us the truth behind these common myths:

In hypnosis, a person will be more open to suggestion and therefore able to change patterns of behaviour

1 The hypnotherapist will be able to make me do things I don’t want to do People usually have this fear because they’ve seen stage or TV hypnosis, but this certainly isn’t the case. Stage hypnotists set the scene for these amusing antics and invite volunteers to get up on stage; when someone does this, they are accepting their role. In hypnosis, a person will be more open to suggestion and therefore able to change patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful, but no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. A key part in the success of hypnotherapy is a willing client.

2 Hypnotherapists can control your mind Hypnosis is not mind control! Someone who is having hypnosis is participating by choice and, while they are usually very relaxed, they remain in control. During a session, the hypnotherapist will make suggestions which you will be free to accept or reject. Highly creative people are often more open to the suggestions made in hypnosis, because they are able to consider and try out suggestions in their imagination.

Want to try hypnotherapy? • S earch for a hypnotherapist with professional training. Hypnotherapy as an industry isn’t legally regulated, however there are many professional bodies that hypnotherapists can join. These ensure professionals have had appropriate training and adhere to a code of ethics. •C  hoose the right hypnotherapist for you. Hypnotherapy Directory lists hypnotherapists from around the country, all of whom have been verified to ensure they are members of a professional body and/ or have the appropriate qualifications and insurance. Take your time to learn more about the hypnotherapist and the way they work, to see if they sound right for you. • Book a consultation. Many hypnotherapists will offer this to give you a chance to get to know each other. This allows you to learn more about the process and discuss your goals, as well as asking any questions you may have, such as the length of treatment. •E  nsure you feel comfortable. Hypnotherapy works best when you are relaxed, so if you have any worries or concerns don’t hesitate to bring them up with your hypnotherapist.

September 2018 • happiful • 37


Myths and Misconceptions

are you sitting

comfortably? Anxiety is something that many of us will experience to some degree, at any point in our lives. While some of us will manage the feeling, others can find it more difficult. So what can help? Hypnotherapy can be effective in reducing feelings of anxiety, and self-hypnosis is a technique we can all utilise. It uses the focusing power of your mind to help alleviate your feelings of stress – that’s right, your mind is a wonderful thing.

1 2 3

Take 3 long, deep breaths.

Focus on the way your chest moves in and out, up and down.

AND BREATHE

Begin counting back from 50 to 1. Close your eyes as you finish.

Imagine yourself in a soothing environment.

A beautiful sandy beach, a blooming woodland or even sitting on top of a fluffy cloud – whatever works for you.

Take another 3 deep breaths. Slowly open your eyes.

Take a moment to give yourself some positive suggestions.

hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk

38 • happiful • September 2018

TH EA

ING ACT IV Y IT

For more information on hypnotherapy and the positive effects it can have on stress and anxiety, or to find a hypnotherapist near you, visit

BR

“I am calm and relaxed” or “I am peaceful and balanced”.

Brought to you by Hypnotherapy Directory Connecting you with trusted support since 2008


Demystifying HYPNOTHERAPY

3

5

If I get hypnotised I won’t remember anything from the session

Hypnotherapy works like magic

It’s completely normal for your mind to wander while in hypnosis, so there may be times where you are aware of what’s being said, and times where you may not be. Therefore your memories of the session can vary. You may remember some of what’s been said, or nothing at all – both are perfectly normal.

Sometimes it might seem so! When a therapist communicates with your unconscious mind, change can happen quickly and easily. However, hypnotherapy is a collaborative process between you and your practitioner, and so requires effort and a desire to change on your part.

6 Only the “weak-willed” can be hypnotised

4 If I get put into a state of hypnosis, I may not come out of it Hypnosis is a completely natural state that we all drift in and out of throughout the day. Everyone has the ability to take themselves out of the hypnotic state – this can be done simply by opening our eyes! If a session is interrupted and the hypnotherapist isn’t there to “talk you back”, you will eventually drift back to awareness anyway, a little like waking up from a nap.

Let’s recap what hypnosis really is. Hypnosis is a state of focused attention, similar to that experienced when you’re absorbed in a creative task or sport. It could therefore be argued that those who are very strong willed are actually better hypnotic subjects. Most people can achieve some level of hypnotic trance; the key is willingness. In short, if you don’t want to be hypnotised, you won’t be.

Taking the wheel with driving anxiety Collette Philip (owner of marketing consultancy Brand by Me) explains how hypnotherapy changed her life: “I had cognitive hypnotherapy last year to overcome a 20-year fear of learning to drive. I’d had more than 80 lessons but never managed a test due to my extreme anxiety. I’d given up, but after starting my own business not driving wasn’t an option! I had two initial sessions with my amazing therapist, who then made me a bespoke recording which I listened to before each lesson and it worked brilliantly. I passed my test second time and am now a very confident and happy driver.”

Lorraine McReight is an awardwinning hypnotherapist and principal of the London Hypnotherapy Academy, which offers fully accredited courses for those wishing to train for a career in clinical hypnotherapy. To find out more, visit hypnotherapywimbledon.co.uk

Highly creative people are often more open to the suggestions made in hypnosis, because they are able to consider and try out suggestions in their imagination September 2018 • happiful • 39


Conscientious Buying

Your 10-Step Guide to

Going Cruelty-Free

In 2018 we have more choice than ever before. And with that choice comes the power to make conscious decisions about the things we use every day Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

40 • happiful • September 2018


Cruelty-FREE

In the 1970s, Mark Constantine, a trained trichologist (someone who studies hair and scalp health), and Liz Weir, a beauty therapist, met in a salon in Poole. They wanted to get together to make natural, crueltyfree products, but it wasn’t until 1995 that the first Lush shop was opened. Today you can buy a huge range of sumptuous body and bath products, with thick, moisturising creams, scrubs, oils, bath bombs and fizzies. Lush spoil you with a choice of products and scents and will have you smelling delicious all day. uk.lush.com

When Rivka Rose moved from New York City to Scotland, she needed a moisturiser that could handle the strong Scottish winds. And so, Faith in Nature was born. For Rivka, three things really mattered about her products: that they were affordable, cruelty-free and eco-friendly. Whatever your complexion or skincare needs, from moisturisers to cleaners and washes, Faith in Nature’s gentle formulas and delicate scents will leave you glowing. Faithinnature.co.uk

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AB UR

LE MEN

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After three years of testing products on herself, Jameela Kosar launched Bohemian Chic Minerals in 2011. Having suffered from sensitive skin, she wanted to make products free of both harsh chemicals and animal products. The range continues to grow, and the online store boasts all your makeup essentials, including 28 shades of foundation, moisturising lipsticks and pigmented eyeshadows in show-stopping hues. bohemianchicminerals.co.uk

Lush

Faith in Nature

ON

Bohemian Chic Minerals

BODY

SKINCARE

N

MAKEUP

Society, and Leaping Bunny, Maria Nila also works with Zeromission, Taking Root and Plan Vivo as part of their Climate Compensation scheme. Their range caters for all hair types, with shampoos, conditioners, oils and styling products that address all our hair qualms. marianila.com

HO

T

his year, more and more people are opting for cruelty-free products – where neither the product itself nor the ingredients used to make it involve harm to animals. This comes after consumer market research firm the NPD Group revealed there has been a 38% growth in the industry between February 2017 and January 2018. Whether you’re doing it for the animals, the environment, or for the excess of incredible, game-changing natural ingredients that often go into these products, choosing cruelty-free allows you to shop guilt-free without sacrificing on the must-haves. And it doesn’t need to be difficult. Here’s our 10-step guide to tried-and-tested cruelty-free products:

• No7 • E.L.F. • Barry M • Urban Decay • Charlotte Tilbury • Marc Jacobs Beauty • Kat Von D • Bare Minerals • Hourglass • ModelCo

HAIR Maria Nila Bringing together a love of animals, nature, and great hair care, Maria Nila is the Swedish brand making high-quality products you can feel good about. Certified by PETA, the Vegan September 2018 • happiful • 41


Conscientious Buying

DEODORANT Salt of the Earth After admiring the work of Salt of the Earth deodorants for years, the brand was adopted by mother and son team Sally and Thomas Laird in 2005. The duo wanted to take the deodorants mainstream and spread the word about natural deodorants free of the harsh synthetic chemicals that can damage sensitive skin, and the environment. Coming in a variety of scents, these unisex deodorants will keep you fresh all day long. crystalspring.co.uk

WIN! Good luck!

Kick-off your collection and win a cruelty-free bundle worth £100! To enter, simply send an email telling us which product you’re most excited to try to competitions@happiful.com

Our top picks!

DENTAL HYGIENE Green People When Charlotte Vøhtz’s daughter, Sandra, was born in 1994, she was dismayed at how difficult it was to find natural products for her family. So in 1997, after years of research, Charlotte launched Green People. The brand promised to never use synthetic chemicals, and it was Charlotte’s strong affinity to nature which ensured that all of Green People’s products are cruelty-free. Green People’s toothpastes come in four flavours – fennel and propolis, citrus and aloe vera, mint, and minty cool – and are fluoride, SLS, triclosan and animal-glycerin (animal-fat used in some toothpastes) free. They also have toothpaste for children, perfect for milk and mixed teeth. greenpeople.co.uk 42 • happiful • September 2018

SHAVING Dr Bronner’s Founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner, a third-generation German-Jewish soapmaker, the labels of Dr Bronner’s products were used to spread Emanuel’s message of the importance of uniting across religious and ethnic divides in order to truly prosper. Today, Emanuel’s vision is continued in the company’s commitment to making socially and environmentally responsible products. Dr Bronner’s shaving creams are made from organic, nourishing ingredients, and come in the scents lemongrass lime, tea tree, lavender, and peppermint, with an unscented option as well. drbronner.co.uk

PERFUMES

Smells jus like Chane t l!

Eden Perfumes Created by a vegan family living in the lively city of Brighton, Eden Perfumes create perfumes and aftershaves in a variety of scents, including cruelty-free, natural ingredient replicas of some of the most famous smells out there, from Chanel No.5 to Chloé. With affordability at its core, Eden Perfumes allows you to pay a fraction of the price to wear famous fragrances, free of animaltesting and headache-inducing synthetic chemicals. edenperfumes.co.uk


Cruelty-FREE

OWN BRAND Finding cruelty-free products doesn’t need to be a mission. While most supermarkets will stock a variety of cruelty-free brands, the following supermarket own-brand products are certified as cruelty-free: • Marks & Spencer • Waitrose • Sainsbury’s • The Co-op • Superdrug • Aldi • Primark

cruelty-free products, and Eric had an eye for design and wanted to take cleaning products out from under the kitchen sink to be proudly displayed on countertops. Today, Method’s products look sleek, smell divine, and are as tough on germs as any traditional cleaning range. All the while, the brand ensures that “guinea pigs are never used as guinea pigs”. methodproducts.co.uk

Find out more

LAUNDRY Ecover In 1979, a “bunch of Belgian hippy scientists” decided to find a cleaner way to make products that were having such a detrimental effect on the waterways and aquatic life. A decade later, Ecover’s first box of washing powder hit the shelves and, finally, a product for eco-conscious buyers was available. Today, you can buy Ecover’s laundry products in a variety of luscious aromas, all free of animal-testing and palm-oil, and perfect for sensitive skin. ecover.com

To find out more about cruelty-free products, and to stay in-the-know about any brand updates, visit crueltyfreeinternational.org

CLEANING Method Back in the year 2000, roommates and childhood friends Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan were fed up with seeing cleaning products full of toxic ingredients. Adam knew that he could create eco-friendly, September 2018 • happiful • 43


The Tapestry of My Life

Tara’s Story

Tara J Lal found herself drowning in a sea of grief after both her mother and brother died, and her world and family fell apart. She spent years running and hiding from her pain, but through seeking help and addressing the hurt she’d buried for so long, Tara was able to find peace with her life and discovered a new sense of belonging

I

sank to the ground, as I grabbed desperately at the soil, begging it for answers. I let out a blood-curdling scream that reverberated in the darkness. “Why?” The word

44 • happiful • September 2018

hung in the cold dark air before disappearing into nothingness. It was Christmas Eve, 1988. I had been at my local pub in London with some friends when I had been overcome

by the need to escape the merriness that felt like it was strangling me. It was barely five weeks since my brother had died, and the world I knew had been obliterated.

Photography | Sarah Davis

The wounds that I carry


True LIFE

Everything I knew and loved in the world had been taken from me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t swallow I grew up in a family of five in north London, the youngest of three children, born to our English mother and Indian father. My sister Jo was the eldest, followed by my brother, Adam, and then me. I thought we were just a normal family. I don’t remember how old I was when I realised that my dad was ill though. As a young girl, I have vivid memories of him sitting in his chair in our living room, eyes closed as if he was trying to shut out the world, unable to offer me any love or attention. I would go to him in search of a cuddle, but it felt as if he was enclosed in a glass tomb. I couldn’t reach him, no matter how hard I tried. I scribbled in my diary: “Dad’s depressed, I hate it when Dad’s depressed. I always think it’s my fault.” Mum was the backbone of our family. She battled to keep our family together through our father’s illness. Then, when I was eight, she found a lump in her breast. In 1984, when I was 13 years old, she died and our family fell apart. Our father started acting strangely, gripped by a manic

psychosis that both terrified and confused me. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The three of us children were alone in the house. None of us knew how to grieve. I had hoped that we would somehow unite, but we didn’t. Instead, we fragmented in our grief, isolated bubbles floating loosely around the universe, looking for somewhere solid to settle. My brother became my rock. He was the person I turned to when it felt as if I were lost in a sea of grief. I admired and loved him. He was tall and handsome with

beautiful Anglo-Indian skin. A straight-A student, athletic and charismatic with a quirky sense of humour, he captivated people and protected me. We had a special bond. I don’t know when I started to notice him change. He had this terrible blank look about him. Occasionally he’d tell me he wasn’t happy, that he was worried about letting everyone down. But still, he could put on a smiling face and tell me everything would be alright. I had a feeling of foreboding; I wanted desperately to help my beautiful brother, and to drag him out of whatever terrible place he was in. Shortly after he turned 20, four years after our mother’s death, Adam took his own life during his first term at Oxford University. It felt as if a bomb had exploded in our family home. Everything I knew and loved in the world had been taken from me. Continues >>>

Adam and Tara on holiday in 1984

September 2018 • happiful • 45


The Tapestry of My Life

Tara’s Story I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t swallow. It felt as if I was drowning in a tsunami that never abated. That’s how I came to be on Hampstead Heath that Christmas Eve in 1988. I wrote to a friend: “I don’t want to die, but I don’t know how to live…” I was 17, and in my final year of school. I started getting panic attacks; it felt as if a vice was clamping around my chest, strangling my breath. The only way I knew how to cope was to keep busy, keep moving, keep travelling. I never wanted to stop. I just kept running, through my 20s, through two university degrees, all over the world. I fell in love and moved to Australia when I was 24 and became a physiotherapist.

Eventually though, I couldn’t outrun the grief, or the pain. I was in my early 30s when I became a firefighter, with a string of broken relationships behind me. One day, we attended an incident where a young man had taken his own life. I tried to suppress an uncontrollable urge to vomit. Soon after that, a colleague attempted suicide and I had a similar physical reaction. Things seemed to change for me when I met a man who I could see a future with. But he left me and my feelings of loss and sadness were so overwhelming and confusing that I couldn’t differentiate the past from the present. It felt like the universe was going to keep hitting me until I stopped.

46 • happiful • September 2018

Eventually, I sought the help of a psychotherapist. She guided me gently over my past, peeling back the layers I had created to keep myself safe. She helped me unlock the steel box of guilt I held in my chest. I hadn’t been able to save my brother, or my mother. In my eyes, Adam’s death was the ultimate rejection of my love; it wasn’t enough to keep him alive. I started turning towards all my fears – of aloneness, of loss, of rejection. The list felt endless, but in doing so I felt my strength emerge. At first just a flickering light, that in time became a burning flame. I began writing my story, and saw my life unfold before me as if I were completing a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly my life made sense. I found compassion for myself. The combination of writing and therapy was transformative for me.

Photography | Glenn Duffus photography

Tara’s found a sense of belonging now, with her career as a firefighter contributing significantly to that

Suddenly my life made sense. I found compassion for myself. The combination of writing and therapy was transformative for me


True LIFE

From left to right: Adam, Tara’s sister Jo, Tara’s father Shivaji, Tara’s mother Bridget, and Tara

I didn’t have a major epiphany, although I always wished I would. I just kept working at it. I ate well, I exercised and I kept a little book by my bed where I wrote down three things to be grateful for every night. I devoted time and energy to my friendships, which helped me feel connected. I built my own wonderfully haphazard and atypical family in Australia. I found my passion again, in nature and in sport, that enabled me to feel a sense of joy that I couldn’t remember as a child. I found a sense of belonging in Australia, through being a volunteer surf-lifesaver, through community work, and through being a firefighter. I often think that the depth and extent of my struggle was directly proportionate to the growth and transformation that I now feel. I hope, if you are out there now, struggling, you can remember that. Never give up. Never stop searching for the answers. They often appear in the most unexpected of places. I’m 47 now, and this year I represented Australia in my sport of surf boat rowing in the open women division. For me, my Australian test cap is the symbol of my struggle through adversity to become the best that I can be. My book was published in 2015, and I now speak publicly

about my experiences. I’m still a firefighter and I volunteer my time to support those impacted by trauma. I teach mental health first aid courses and I am studying for a PhD looking at the impact of suicide on firefighters. More than anything, I see how my experiences have given me meaning and purpose in life, and I’m so grateful for that. I see how the wounds that I carry are a part of me. I no longer want to rid myself of them. They guide me. They make the

tapestry of my life richer. I no longer see what life took from me, I see what it gave me. Tara J Lal is a firefighter, mental health first aid trainer, international speaker on mental health and suicide post-vention and prevention, and the author of ‘Standing on My Brother’s Shoulders’ (Watkins Publishing). Visit tarajlal.com for more.

Our Expert Says Two important deaths cause Tara’s world to come crashing down, and without emotional support, her family suffers and disintegrates. Tara tries to cope by running away from her grief, but it catches up with her in unexpected ways. Through the support of a therapist, she’s able to work through her feelings. Her story reminds us of the importance of taking time to process grief, to help us understand it through acceptance and compassion. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP, Reg Ind counsellor

September 2018 • happiful • 47


Our Top Picks

mindful life

Five journals for a

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

H

Flower pen by Rustic by Marney

ow did it feel when you hit a green light streak all the way home, or that time you and a friend laughed until you cried? What was going through your mind when you were watching your soon-to-be favourite film for the first time? We’re all busy people living hectic lives, and often the little moments of joy pass us by unnoticed. But journaling can help you capture life’s quirks, and store them in one place to return to in years to come. Or, on a more practical level, it can help you plan out your days to save some much needed me-time. Tempted to give it a go? To get you started, we’ve put together our top five journals to help you savour those moments of happiness in everyday life.

Gratitude Journal Selfish Darling It’s the little things in life that make all the difference. The Gratitude Journal from Selfish Darling has been designed to help you build inner strength and reflect on the things that bring you joy. Inside you’ll find a “happiness scale” to track your mood, weekly and daily check-in questions, calming exercises by experts, and uplifting quotes. RRP: £24.99, selfishdarling.com 48 • happiful • September 2018

Win

We’re giving away five Gratitude Journals from Selfish Darling. To enter, email us at competitions@happiful.com and tell us what you’re most grateful for in your life. Competition closes 16 October when we’ll pick five winners at random – good luck!


Memorable MOMENTS

Pockitude For those who are pressed for time, but don’t want to miss out on capturing little moments of gratitude, Pockitude is the pocket-sized journal for you. These bite-size books have a less formal structure than some of the other journals here. Each page has four prompts: “I’m grateful for”, “Why I’m grateful”, “Today’s act of kindness”, and “Today’s reflections”. Pockitude ships from the US and you can buy them in packs of three or 12. RRP: $12–$44, pockitudes.com

The 100-Day Planner Happiness Planner

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal Potter Style Five years ago today, what was playing on your mind? What was inspiring and motivating you? With this journal, you can create a time capsule in a book. Each day the diary asks you a question such as, “What was the best part of today?”, or “How do you describe home?” Once you’ve answered a year’s worth of questions, go back to the start of the book to answer them again, and see how much has changed over the course of the past year. RRP: £14.99, amazon.co.uk

The ultimate “Instagramable” journal, a Happiness Planner, will help you organise your days to reach peak happiness. Starting with a series of self-reflective questions to encourage you to recognise what makes you happy and unhappy in life, the 100-day Happiness Planner is a daily journal that offers space for to-do lists and habit trackers to help you identify how to live your best life. RRP: £20.00, thehappinessplanner.co.uk

Pi Daily Personal Planner Pi Journals This is the journal for the minimalists out there who want to keep things simple. Keep track of your work and personal life all in one place. This daily journal has sections for to-do lists, appointments, ad-hoc items, notes, personal to-dos, and rounds it all off with a prompt to list the things you’re grateful for. RRP: £12.00, pijournals.com September 2018 • happiful • 49


gratitude

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We believe in you – and you should too. To celebrate that, and hopefully give you a little pick-me-up on days where your positivity is being tested, we’ve created gratitude cards to decorate your desk, or pass on to a friend when they need to hear it most. Kind words really can change someone’s day...

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SEPTEMBER The Happiful Seal of Approval THE CONVERSATION

International Day of Peace: Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this is a day to consider how we can work towards world peace. To find out how you can get involved, visit internationaldayofpeace.org (21 September)

Images | Twinsters: twinstersmovie.com, DreamLab: play.google.com, Emily Davison: Instagram - @fashioneyesta2012, The Mother of All Jobs: bloomsbury.com

TREAT YOURSELF

Pela Phone Cases: Protect your phone

and the environment with Pela’s BPA free, 100% compostable phone cases. A member of 1% for the Planet, Pela donate a portion of their revenue to environmental non-profit organisations – and use plasticfree packaging. (Browse the collection on pelacase.com)

Support cancer research in your sleep, learn about the benefits of a life with less ‘stuff’, or visit England’s most impressive buildings for free with our top 10 recommendations for September

PAGE-TURNERS

The Mother of All Jobs: How to Have Children and a Career and Stay Sane(ish) by Christine Armstrong: A funny, realistic take on combining a job with small children from a woman who has been there and done it. At its core, this book is all about sharing the tips and tricks to allow working mothers to thrive. (Out 6 September, Bloomsbury, RRP: £12.99)

LEND US YOUR EARS

S QUA R E E Y E S Twinsters: An engaging and uplifting documentary chronicling the true story of a French student who discovered an identical twin she didn’t know she had on the internet. (Available on Netflix)

OUT AND ABOUT Heritage Open Days: Curious to see what’s behind the doors of England's most iconic historical buildings? Heritage Open Days is the largest festival of history and culture in England, with venues across the country inviting you to join their celebration of heritage and community – and best of all, it's free! Visit heritageopendays.org.uk (6–9 and 13–16 September)

The Minimalists Podcast: Often ranked as the #1 health podcast on Apple Podcasts, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss living a meaningful life with less. To listen, visit theminimalists.com/podcast

GET GOING Scilly Swim Challenge: One or two-day challenges, consisting of six swims (total 15km) and six walks (total 10km). It’s not a race, but a chance to enjoy the incredible scenery that the Isles of Scilly has to offer! Find out more and get involved at www.scillyswimchallenge.co.uk

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TECH TIP-OFFS DreamLab: Want to help fight cancer in your sleep? Our smartphones have incredible computing power, especially when left idle overnight. Dreamlab is the app that downloads small cancer research problems and simulations, and uses your phone's processing power to solve complex mathematical problems, sending results back to the research team. Pick which projects you want to support, view the progress, and become part of something huge. (Available from the Google Play Store)

PUT ON A SHOW BBC Proms in the Park – the last night: Pitch up with a picnic and relax at the finale of BBC Proms season in London’s Hyde Park, hosted by Michael Ball. With performances from a range of musicians, including the BBC Concert Orchestra, it’s sure to be a night to remember. Head to bbc.co.uk/events and search for the Proms in the Park to join the fun. (Tickets from £45, 8 September)

PLUGGED-IN Emily Davison: Emily is a visually impaired blogger who hopes to challenge people’s perceptions of sight loss through her love of fashion and beauty, and campaigns to make fashion more accessible and inclusive. (Follow her on Instagram: @fashioneyesta2012) September 2018 • happiful • 51


Happiful Hack

5

SUNNY SOLUTIONS

How to keep hold of that

holiday high Travel feeds the soul. There’s no doubt about that. But, we can’t all press pause on life and disappear for months on end. The majority of us have to make do with short breaks away, which often feel like a hazy dream as soon as we’ve had a day back at work. So how can we hold on to that getaway buzz and avoid the post-holiday blues? Writing | Sarah Baba Illustrating | Rosan Magar

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s many of us get packing for our summer holiday, it’s a good time to think about how we can hold on to that glow when we get home, avoiding the mental slump that we can all experience after a break. Research says up to 57% of us experience “post-holiday blues”, with those already suffering mental illness at risk of increased anxiety and depression when they return. The good news is, there are lots of ways to not only make that reality kick easier, but to bottle what we felt on holiday and apply it in our everyday lives just like sun lotion.

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1 Make it a soft landing

If you can, avoid going straight into a stressful situation like rushing back to the office or a social engagement the moment you step off the plane. Wherever possible, I avoid landing late and then heading back to work the next day. Give your mind time to adjust, and gradually re-introduce “real life”. If you have a weekend before you go back to work, even better. It can help to prepare for your return before you set off. I make sure my place is tidy, there’s fresh milk, and I’ve taken the bins out. Who wants to return to a fridge full of suspicious-smelling food?

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2 Don’t rush back to reality

Nothing’s guaranteed to kill your holiday glow faster than flipping open the office emails before your case is even off the carousel. While a quick scan through emails before hitting the office can help you mentally prepare and avoid that first-day shock to the system, ensure you give yourself a breather and definitely set yourself a sensible timeframe – maybe a quick half hour with a cup of tea and some airport Toblerone the evening before you return. Small steps!

Go for walks, get in touch with nature, or explore hidden winding streets. It all helps you see things with a fresh perspective, without the expensive return flights


Life LESSONS

3 Steer clear of social media

Comparing your life to those filtered snapshots others are posting online is never healthy, but can feel even harder to handle when you’re struggling to adjust post-holiday – particularly in the summer when half the world seems to be posting poolside selfies. During your first week back, try to limit or, even better, avoid social media. Why not use the time to print off your holiday snaps instead of posting them online, and place them around the house to create your own positive memories instead? Maybe meet up with friends in person to catch up on your adventures – it’ll feel much more rewarding than a like or two on your latest post.

4 Recreate the holiday spirit

This doesn’t mean building an artificial beach in your garden or fitting a swimup bar to the bathtub. When I got back from a fortnight in Vietnam, I thought about what had made those two weeks

panic attack-free for the first time in nearly a year. Anyone experiencing anxiety will have heard countless times “centre yourself in the now”, which is often easier said than done. But by not forcing it, I was able to be mindful of my new surroundings, absorbing the exotic smells, sounds and sights.

We typically last just 37 days before we get our next break booked However, it’s harder to be mindful when you’ve got the same playlist on a loop. So, take some time to walk a different route to work and look up from your phone. On the weekend, hop on a train or pack up the car and seek somewhere new. Go for walks, get in touch with nature, or explore hidden winding streets. It all helps you see things with a fresh perspective, without the expensive return flights.

5 Get your next escape booked Stats show we typically last just 37 days before we get our next break booked. And that’s not a bad thing. Of course, we can’t all afford to book a new exotic escape every six weeks, but it does help to have regular pause points booked in, where we can work towards space for ourselves when things feel overwhelming. It could be as simple as taking a long weekend to stay with friends in another part of the country, or going on a cooking or yoga weekend – something to allow you to step off the conveyor belt.

A holiday isn’t just about having a week in the sun; it’s time to nurture you. By building some of those good habits you naturally find yourself doing on holiday back into the everyday, you can stretch out the benefits long after your tan has faded. September 2018 • happiful • 53


WRITE YOUR OWN STORY “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

Photography | Kinga Cichewicz


Leaving it at the stage door From a role in The Lion King to the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent, and over the pond to play Effie in Dreamgirls on the West End, Moya Angela’s power-vocals speak for themselves. But walking on stage to perform what is commonly known as the “biggest sing in theatre” night after night doesn’t come without its unique challenges. Here we talk mental health support for actors, getting through the bad days, and learning to leave a role behind as the curtain falls Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

What makes Dreamgirls such a special show? Well, you’ve never heard singing like this in all the West End. If you love beautiful voices, this is the show to go listen to. It’s a story about friendship and heartbreak, and it’s a story about being the underdog and coming out

on top. I think everyone can relate to any of those moments. Your character, Effie, has a tough time. Do you find it hard to separate your emotions from her’s? Every single time. It’s one of those characters where you have to bring up

real moments so they seem authentic on stage. Every time I play her it’s very difficult because I have to go back to a place I don’t want to visit. Any time I sign up for it, I know I’m signing up for a year of extreme discipline and trying not to get in too deep. Continues >>> September 2018 • happiful • 55


Powering Through

Recently, helplines have been set up specifically to support actors. Do you think that’s necessary? Absolutely. I love that people are advocating and speaking out about mental health, because just like if I have an injury, if I’m not well up top then I need to seek help. When it comes to support systems or talking about my mental health, I’ve learnt to put it first. Have you always been open to talking about your mental health? No, and I still find it difficult sometimes. I try to talk about mental health as much as I can now because it also helps me on my journey of

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working through it. We have more access to things that can help with mental health than we did before. So not only can we talk about it, but there are people out there as well who can help us with that.

It’s important to keep honest people around you, people who will keep you grounded Have you ever sought professional support? I go to therapy every week and it helps a lot. It makes my week easier to manage and helps me to understand myself. I don’t know anything about what’s going on up there – I just know how I’m feeling. So I get a professional to explain what’s going on, and that makes everything better.

Do you ever have days where you’re just not feeling it? There have been times when I have been going through things and I’ve been crying, but I know I have to be on stage in an hour. I have to be bubbly and young and happy, but I had a bad day and I’m hurt.

Photography | Portrait: PaulBlackImages, Performance: Dewynters

How do you manage it? Have people around you who say: “Hey, snap out of it.” But it takes practice to leave it at the stage door. It’s important to keep honest people around you, people who will keep you grounded. When I feel like I’m falling, I’ll call my mom or sister.

Are there any unique pressures in your job? Absolutely. First of all, I’m in a very competitive field. Before you even get on stage there are so many things you have to do to prove yourself. No matter where you are in your career you still have to go into the audition room and sing in front of people who are there to judge you and tell you whether you’re good enough. Then maybe you don’t get the job and you start to judge yourself. And I’m a black American woman. Jobs are opening up for people of colour, but there was a time where you really had to prove yourself to be looked at differently. These are all the things I’ve had to deal with in the years I’ve been on stage.


Dream GIRLS

How do you pick yourself up? Yoga is my friend. It really calms my spirit and connects my mind to my body. Some days I can’t get there. Those days I just have to be an actor and act like I’m OK. When you work with people that often though, they can tell when you’re not OK. But I just say: “Hey guys, I’m not OK today but thank you for your support, let’s just go out here and do this.” Then there are days where I have to call up and say, sorry I can’t come to work today. On those days, are the people you work with understanding? I think being here in the West End I have a lot more leeway with taking

time off for my mental health. At home [on Broadway], we don’t have as many holiday days and we can’t take them individually. We just have to really push through and hopefully make it. So I’m grateful that I’m here, and that we have more time to take care of ourselves so that we can come back stronger. In 2016, you took part in America’s Got Talent. Do you think TV shows have a responsibility to take care of contestants' emotional wellbeing? I think they do have a responsibility, absolutely. We are all humans on this earth and it would be nice to know

that they are concerned about their contestants. I do feel that there could be more support. But you have to make sure that you have that support in your own life anyway, whether you’re on a TV show or at any other job. I have that support from my fiancé, my family and very close friends.

Jobs are opening up for people of colour but there was a time where you really had to prove yourself to be looked at differently And do you practise self-care too? I feel like Asian cultures got it right with massage and aromatherapy. That’s what self-care looks like to me. I’m self-caring myself to Bath on Sunday to spend some time in the spas. It’s knowing when enough is enough. It’s knowing your limit, eating well and living well. There are so many things that are under that list. And I’m still learning what Moya needs to take care of herself – but I put it first now. That’s what self-care is to me. To see Moya Angela as Effie White at the Savoy Theatre visit dreamgirlswestend.com. For more from Moya follow her on Instagram @moya_angela, and Twitter @MoyaAngela.

September 2018 • happiful • 57


Happy Business

Get a Clue:

Understand your body, celebrate your cycle Discover the menstrual tracking app aiming to empower and educate women around the world, by helping them to take back control of their bodies, and their lives Writing | Emily Reynolds

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otorbikes and menstrual health might not seem to have much in common. But for Clue founder and CEO Ida Tin, they do. Since its creation in 2012, Clue, a free period tracker app, has gained more than eight million active users – and it’s easy to see why. With a simple interface, Clue can not only predict someone’s period and fertility window, but also helps users understand how their pain, emotions, sleep, sex drive, energy, cravings, digestion, skin, motivation, social life, diet and much more can be impacted by their cycle too. Users can also track their use of contraception, premenstrual symptoms, their menopause and more, and can sync the app with Apple’s HealthKit to monitor cervical mucus, body temperature, and sexual activity.

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Photography | Ida: Roman Schramm App Images | Clue

Taking CONTROL

Personal experience is at the heart of what Clue does – and, as Ida tells me, was the reason she decided to develop the app in the first place. “Reproductive health is an incredibly foundational and central part of our lives, but there’s a real lack of clarity for women on this generally,” she says. “That starts the moment a woman has her first period and begins to manage that part of her life, and continues as she chooses whether or not she wants to use birth control and, if so, which method to use.” Aged around 30, Ida realised her birth control wasn’t working for her. But despite her age, she had no idea what her options were. “I thought it was ridiculous that we were able to put a man on the moon, but we didn’t have a tool that would help us understand our body’s own patterns,” she says. Before founding Clue, Ida managed a motorcycle tour company, leading trips all over the world. “Remote landscapes, like deserts, were my office,” she says. Ida is also a graduate from a Danish creative business school and wrote a best-selling book, Direktøs, about her experiences of touring the world on a motorcycle. Ida believes that tracking a menstrual cycle can make all women “more empowered and more in control of their bodies and lives”. “Our ongoing goal is to continue advancing research into female health, and to make basic information about reproductive health more accessible,” she says. “We are partnering with scientific institutions to further research into female health, and working to help more women become educated about their bodies.”

empathetic information about their health”. The site will offer content on a range of topics: the science of the menstrual cycle, illnesses, fertility, trans health, PMS, pregnancy, perimenopause, sex, birth control, and more. “Educational content has always been important to the company,” the website’s editor, Amanda Cormier, explains. “But relaunching our website as a dedicated channel for this information is really our commitment to improving global knowledge of menstrual and reproductive health.”

I thought it was ridiculous that we were able to put a man on the moon, but we didn’t have a tool that would help us understand our body’s own patterns

Amanda, a former managing editor at The New Yorker website, reached out to Clue in 2017, describing herself as a “huge Clue fan” after reading their weekly newsletters. “I felt that Clue’s voice and unique approach to health could be more robust, and made into a real destination online,” she explains. “I worked with an amazing software engineer, Omosola Odetunde, to develop and build the site.” Amanda points to several visions for the site: first, providing context for the data Clue’s users track in the app. Most people know that period tracker software can predict their next period, but many don’t know how the cycle affects other elements of their health and wellbeing. Clue users, on the other hand, are asked to track many aspects of their health: skin, hair, digestion, alcohol intake and more. “In order to understand why you should track [these] in Clue, you have to know how those things are affected by your cycle,” Amanda explains. Continues >>>

Clue's founder and CEO, Ida Tin

An information centre

Clue has now widened its offering, with a new website, helloclue.com, providing women and people who menstruate with “evidence-based,

September 2018 • happiful • 59


Happy Business

Information online, which many women turn to, is not always reliable, both Ida and Amanda point out. “While it’s fantastic that women are open to sharing their information, it’s important to remember that experiences are unique to each person, and that posts on a forum do not always have scientific backing or a doctor’s approval, which makes the information unreliable,” Ida says. “We want to combat this, combining scientific and fact-checked information with a tone that’s relatable and empathetic.” In 2017, Clue’s tech support team received 1,368 inquiries related to health. “‘Why is my period late? Why is my cycle irregular? When will I get my first period?’ We want to proactively answer those questions on our website,” Amanda says.

Improving knowledge

Clue had already published studies looking at cycle syncing and female condom use, but the team says it was

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“crucial” they had a website on which to share this information so they can “be the first to know about the results, and [to also] learn more about their bodies, and how their cycle affects other areas of their life”. Amanda is “most interested” in Clue’s potential to reach new people and “to improve the state of knowledge about menstrual and reproductive health”. “Google is still the way that many people get their health info – about 1% of all Google searches are symptomrelated,” she says. “After Googling a symptom, there are many sources that people can get health info from, but they usually go one of two ways: reputable but sterile and clinical; or empathetic but lacking evidence for the information. “With our website, we wanted to try something new: information that is supported by science, but with empathy at its core.”

Misinformation

Historically, menstrual and reproductive health is an area that has “not been treated with the same seriousness or attention as other aspects of health by the clinical establishment of doctors and scientific researchers”, Amanda says. Like many women, Amanda herself “had a hard time finding answers” to her health questions. Working at Clue, she says, has opened her eyes to even more about reproductive health. Echoing her earlier point about Google, Amanda says that looking up symptoms or side effects online often leads people who menstruate to believe they are either “pregnant, seriously sick, or both”. Ida agrees – “Anything regarding menstrual health has been considered as taboo by society” – pointing out that it was only last year that we saw the first sanitary product advertisements with red, rather than blue, liquid. For decades, femtech products like Clue have been considered

Society is finally acknowledging that menstruation is something that affects half of the world’s population. It should be something we speak about openly, and dedicate resources into researching “niche”, only growing in prominence fairly recently. “Society is finally acknowledging that menstruation is something that affects half of the world’s population,” Ida says. “It should be something we speak about openly, and dedicate resources into researching.” Amanda notes: “For thousands of years, women and people who menstruate have been discriminated against because of their biology. This is not news. “But I’m excited about the ways current technology can empower women by spreading health information. Period tracking was so important to my own self-knowledge, and my ability to advocate for my own health.” To find out more about your cycle, visit helloclue.com and download the Clue app for free from the App Store and Google Play. Follow them on Twitter @Clue Emily Reynolds is a journalist and author based in London. She writes on mental health, health, gender and more, and is the author of ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind’.


Christine’s Story

Your past doesn’t dictate your future Against the glittering backdrop of the diamond trade, author and serial entrepreneur Christine Clayfield suffered shocking mental and physical abuse. But what could have left her broken, only fuelled her resolution to change her life, and the lives of others “

Y

ou will never make anything of your life” is something I was told for years, by various people in my life – people who should have supported me. This prediction did not come true, but it very nearly did. I was always too afraid and full of self-doubt to leave my violent husband, who once beat me into a coma. Loneliness is the cruellest of all emotions, and I avoided it to the brink of death. I lay in

a coma for 10 days, completely unresponsive and barely alive. This was my turning point though, and I woke with the determination to change my life. As a little girl, I was isolated. My father was a powerful man in the diamond industry, and was all-powerful in his own home. He demanded obedience, perfection and compliance from his family. He upheld his position through vicious punishments – beatings and withholding meals. We all

suffered, except his favourite son, my brother Kane. I was the middle child of five, and the only girl. My first female role model was my mother, who had the nervous disposition of someone who was always under the scrutiny of her husband. She bore her burden with calm and grace. Then, aged five, I was thrust into the care of the nuns at a girls-only boarding school. Their strict, authoritarian leadership bred cruelty. Continues >>> September 2018 • happiful • 61


Change Your World

Christine’s Story Instead of being equipped with the confidence and support to face life, I was taunted, punished and ridiculed by the other girls and the nuns alike. I lived for many years in a constant atmosphere of fear, hate, humiliation and worthlessness. This unfortunate childhood led to a tumultuous adolescence and early adulthood. My teenage years and early 20s were filled with bad choices, from alcohol to promiscuity. I was so desperate for approval and affection, that I had no idea that what I was doing was wrong. I was having fun – for the first time in my life. Dirty, alcohol-fuelled, self-hating fun. I became a whirling, drunken wreck – sharing myself with men who didn’t care about me at all. I thought I was fighting back against my upbringing, the loneliness and my feelings of inadequacy. It was exhilarating.

Christine at her first holy communion

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All this inevitably led to the destructive relationship with my first husband, Harry, who, like most abusers, knew how to control me. Every time he was particularly violent, the next day he’d apologise profusely, professing his undying love. What held me in this relationship was partly my upbringing – taught to forgive and forget – and as someone who grew up in abuse, I wasn’t shocked by his behaviour. You never judge the person you love for what they do, but for who you think they are – these were the rose-tinted glasses through which I was seeing my marriage. The result was me lying in agonising pain in a hospital bed with knuckle-shaped contusions. After 10 days in a coma, hovering at the brink of death, I woke up. I had a choice to make and I am so grateful that I made the right one. I’d found my survival instinct. A fighting spirit like I had never known before reared up in me. I felt anger, pain and sadness inside me, but I also felt strength, resolve and hope. I was going to meet my fears with the same resistance that a rock shows the wind. I felt an overwhelming urge to find the person I truly am, the real me hiding beneath the layers of misery. I realised that nobody was going to come to my rescue – I needed to rescue myself. I started swimming and practising for a triathlon. The

training was good for me, physically and mentally. Race after race, I received trophies; I still have them today. The feeling of achievement and being a winner rested in my bones and I was obsessed with finding more. I attended business courses and read books about life and entrepreneurship. I started to realise that success is all about planning and preparation, and I was ready. I remember a quote in a book by Napoleon Hill: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” After reading that quote, I made a list of things I wanted to achieve; I put the list in a frame and hung it on my bedroom wall. I was going to devote the rest of my life to achieving all the things on my list. It was my mission to be so busy loving my life that I had no time for hate, regrets, negativity, worry or fear. I wanted to be my own boss, own my own companies; be in control instead of others controlling me. Shortly after that I started my first company, which was a success. I went from a “nobody”


True LIFE

It was my mission to be so busy loving my life that I had no time for hate, regrets, negativity, worry or fear to a business owner. When I was practising to compete, I told myself: “Keep going and you’ll get there.” I applied these principles in my business life as well. I was going to work until I made it. During this time, I developed a personal approach to selling. My customers loved my techniques, and I started to receive a lot of orders. I understood the importance of delegating, so I took on staff to run my company and started up a second. Since then, I’ve become a serial entrepreneur. Although I bear the scars of my past, I don’t let them rule my present, or ruin my future. My past holds much pain and abuse, but it did not stop me from changing my life and building the future I wanted. I want to empower and inspire the world with No Fourth River, a novel based on a true story: my own. My book is my way of letting the world know that, despite the pain of your past, you have the ability to change your future. You can make it happen if you just believe. It all starts with you.

Throughout my life, I have developed strength of character – a real determination that has seen me through some dark and abysmal times. This is the purpose of telling my story – I want to help you discover your strength. I lived on the other side of happiness for a very long time. After endless torment, I made a promise to myself: no more. It was time to build the life I desired. I made a plan to change my world. Right now, I am totally at peace with myself. After the coma, I became a better person. I am kind, gentle and warm-hearted. If others are in trouble, I will help them. I am very tough in business, but not in my personal life. When we are adults, we look at things from a different perspective. When I went through hell, never did I think that hell would make me a better person. I am living proof that

your past does not necessarily dictate your future, nor does it control your present. Ultimately, it all comes down to a choice that only you can make. A choice to let your past go, to choose your own story and live it. A choice to have a choice. Christine’s novel ‘No Fourth River’ is available on Amazon. For more information, visit christineclayfield.com and NoFourthRiver.com

Christine is now a successful businesswoman and author

Our Expert Says Christine’s dignity in talking about the abuse she endured, and her path to freedom within her own mind and life, is humbling. She is a testament to the power of human healing, and the innate call to heal that lies within us all. Choosing to honour yourself and move on when others do not treat you with love and respect can be difficult, but stories like Christine’s remind us that it is possible. I wish all those recovering from abuse well for a fulfilling and transforming future. Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor

September 2018 • happiful • 63


The ‘Glastonbury of Mental Health’

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

The festival line-up includes talks, artists and performances

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y the time you read this, the festival season will be in full flow. People up and down the country will be camping, dancing, singing, sharing stories and starting conversations, potentially with people they’ve never met before. One of the best things about a festival is this complete break from the 9–5, away from the city streets with the space to wander, dream and learn... But could it be even better? This month, you can experience a festival of a different kind, right in the heart of the bustling streets of London. With music and movement – but mostly an opportunity to hear from and talk to artists, professionals, practitioners and advocates about how we can not only live, but thrive with our mental health. The line-up includes: In Conversation with Grayson Perry, Eye Spy: A Visual Journey through the National Gallery, Singing for Everyone and Life Drawing and Mindfulness. And that’s just at a first glance. This is the Mental Wealth Festival – named because its focus is on how we grow our wellness rather than solely how we “battle” mental illness. It began as a nugget of an idea in 2015, during a conversation between Tina True of City Lit – which provides educational courses for adults in London – and Danny Curtin of Beyond Words (an organisation that provides books

Photography | Eliza Shaddad: Colin Hart, National Gallery: Philip Hardman

With a nickname courtesy of MH advocate and author Johnny Benjamin, the Mental Wealth Festival in London, a unique exploration of how we can all strive to grow our own mental wellness, is entering its fourth year. So who better to speak to about the abundance of support the festival has received so far than its creative director Tina True, who explores why events like this are becoming a vital catalyst in breaking down stigma


Get Involved!

Day two of the festival is held in London's National Gallery

Monday 10 September The first day will be held at City Lit with a focus on mental health in the workplace, and with the date coinciding with National Suicide Awareness Day, there will be an audience parliamentary event to discuss suicide prevention. Tuesday 11 September Day two focuses on mental health in the family and community, held in London’s National Gallery.

We both wanted to find a way of speaking about mental health, with a focus on the positive possibilities and how to help yourself to stay well and training to support people who find pictures easier to understand than words). “I wanted to have a conversation with the staff and students at City Lit about mental wellbeing, but it was a deeply uncool subject at the time,” says Tina. “Danny and I got talking and realised that we both wanted to find a way of looking and speaking about mental health which would provide people with actionable advice and best practice, with a focus on the positive possibilities and how to help yourself to stay well.” And so the concept of the Mental Wealth Festival began. Tina was delighted that the idea was given the immediate go-ahead from City Lit’s principal, Mark

Malcolmson, and in partnership with Beyond Words – and so she began to organise the first festival. Tina was shocked by the support she received upon its announcement. “The response was overwhelming!” Tina explains. “I was inundated with emails from people offering to speak and support the festival for free, as they still do – and it sold out within days. There was more interest than we could have imagined.” One of the major changes in the festival’s short lifespan, Tina reflects, is the public’s attitude to the subject of mental health. “It’s an easier conversation to have now, people are much more open to speaking out. There’s still a long way to go though and we need to remember that.” Looking closely at the programme, it’s clear that the festival addresses a wide range of topics, needs and challenges – spanning highly political issues around provision and care, to deeply personal reflections and experience sharing. The arts also play a major role in the festival – not just because the National Gallery is a venue for the second day – but as an important element of the self-care toolkit, the festival encourages participants to develop

What can I expect? There’ll be a plethora of talks and workshops for festivalgoers to choose from, including Suicide Prevention, The Courage To Change, Writing Back to Happiness, Arts, Health and Wellbeing for Future Generations, and My Kids and Social Media. Who? Expect to hear from Grayson Perry (ticket only), Bryony Gordon, Jonny Benjamin, Hope Virgo, Laura Hearn, Rachel Kelly and more. from what they hear and participate in during the two days. Chatting further with Tina, I understand that, although there is no shying away from the big topics in mental health, the feeling of the festival is energetic, inspirational and eclectic. Last year, mental health campaigner and author Jonny Benjamin called the festival “the Glastonbury of mental health”. Tina laughs at this: “It is! Although in the middle of London.” I congratulate Tina and her team on the festival and tell her I look forward to attending. I’m already sure it won’t be the last year I do.

Keep up to date with the latest from MWF: @mentalwealthfst | #MWF2018 | mentalwealthfestival.co.uk September 2018 • happiful • 65


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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.

WHY TRAIN AS A MENTAL HEALTH CHAMPION?

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.

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What is

PASSIVE AGGRESSION? It can be subversive, manipulative and subtle – just a mutter here, a silence there – but it can quickly destroy a relationship. Here’s how to spot the signs of PA, and what you can do to tackle the problem Writing | Andrea Harrn

Photography | Keith Camilleri

P

assive aggression is a persistent way of relating to others, which has a negative impact on relationships. It takes many forms, but generally can be described as non-verbal aggression. It is an inability to express difficult feelings in a rational way, and makes problems worse. Healthy relationships involve honest communication, where both parties listen and accept responsibility. Not so with passive aggressive (PA) relationships, where angry thoughts and feelings are buried beneath fear and resentment. The aggression often comes out in other ways that indicate there is a problem, without addressing the real issues.

Typical PA behaviours can include giving your other half, friend, or co-worker the “silent treatment”, sulking, using negative body language, or denying there is even a problem. Someone may act one way (friendly), but feel another (seething), give mixed messages, or even seek revenge. It can feel very confusing when you are on the receiving end, because the behaviours are often manipulative and subversive. At its worst, PA behaviour can include verbal abuse (muttering under their breath, put downs), emotional abuse (not giving space for your feelings), mental abuse (gaslighting), physical abuse Continues >>>

September 2018 • happiful • 67


Lifestyle & Relationships

(accidentally-on-purpose hurting you), and sexual abuse (withdrawal of intimacy or using sex as a bargaining tool). PA behaviour is grounded in fear, a lack of assertiveness, low self-esteem and poor communication skills. It is fed by irrational thoughts and twisted logic, or the rewriting of history to suit the aggressor. How it can affect relationships Passive aggression can be displayed by both people in a relationship. The original passive aggressor is the person who finds it hard to discuss emotions, has poor communication skills and avoids confrontation. The secondary passive aggressor is the partner, who tends to be more passive, who cannot express their feelings due to fear of response or conflict, walks on eggshells around their partner, and feels they have no voice. One example is a couple who came to me for counselling – the names are changed here, of course. Paul and Gemma wanted to understand why their relationship had gone so wrong. Paul had recently been made redundant, but found it hard to share his thoughts and emotions with Gemma. He was angry at his own situation, and resentful of Gemma’s success.

68 • happiful • September 2018

Photography | Jim Flores

Angry thoughts and feelings are buried beneath fear and resentment. The aggression often comes out in other ways, without addressing the real issues


Understanding BEHAVIOUR

On the other hand, Gemma was feeling a lot of pressure and was in need of some TLC. When she tried to share her day with Paul, she did not feel heard. He stopped eye contact, and when she tried to make plans, Paul would jeopardise them. When she tried to raise any issues, she was met with extreme reactions, or denials of any problem. Paul would become aggressive, would bang around the house, and rational conversation became hard. It got to the point where Gemma felt there was little point in trying to talk to Paul – it was as if he was “out of bounds”. Gemma was walking on eggshells and felt that it was safer not to speak out. Although she knew he was under pressure about work, it didn’t stop her feeling angry with him. Why was he using her as his “punch bag”? It wasn’t fair and she didn’t deserve it. Gemma’s own behaviour began to change, as she lost respect for Paul and no longer wanted intimacy. A wall was building between them that felt hard to break down. Gemma was empathic and caring, so this situation was very painful for her. She longed for a discussion to sort things out, but Paul continued to deny there was anything wrong. Where passive aggression is happening in a relationship, real issues and problems are not properly discussed, which affects trust between people and can eventually lead to the destruction of the relationship. What to do if you are on the receiving end of passive aggression Being on the receiving end of PA behaviour can feel confusing, intimidating, bullying, controlling and scary. You might feel guilty, and even that it’s your fault. But remember: while it is always a good idea to reflect on your own behaviour, you are not responsible for

your partner’s behaviour. However they choose to act is not a reflection on you; it says nothing about you, and it is not your fault. Think about whether you are more passive or assertive. Passive behaviour includes: • Denying your emotional needs in order to please others or save the relationship. • Finding it hard to say “no” for fear of rejection or judgement. • Not speaking up for yourself or your equal rights. Assertive behaviour includes: • Honest communication about your thoughts and feelings. • Understanding that others are entitled to their point of view. • Being clear about what is and is not acceptable behaviour. • Letting others know when your boundaries are being crossed. Be aware of how the passive aggression operates in your relationship and try to be understanding. Calmly explain how your partner’s behaviour is affecting you. Be aware of your own responses and be honest about your part in the situation. If your partner still chooses to deny the problem, then talk to them about the consequences if things do not improve. Everybody deserves to be respected and valued. It starts with you. Value, love and respect yourself – and trust your intuition to make appropriate decisions. What to do if you might be acting out in a passive aggressive way Do you act out, rather than speak out? If you don’t like your own behaviour, you can choose to do something about it. What are the underlying problems that are causing you to feel so angry? Is there anything you can do to resolve these issues? Can you take responsibility

for this, or do you expect others to make the changes? Try not to feel attacked or judged. Instead, take an overall view of the situation and become solution-focused rather than stuck in a hurtful dialogue. Be assertive in expressing yourself. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings, as does your partner. Start by making a list of your own negative behaviours and the impact that these are having on your relationship, and yourself. Begin to see that your desire to get back at your partner, defeat them, or annoy them, is not working. Be honest about why you feel the way you do, and give them a chance to respond. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and express your emotions. Nothing is more powerful than vulnerability in bringing people together in a deep and connecting way. Be honest about your part in conflict or problems. It is OK to get things wrong. We learn more from our mistakes in life than from our successes. Be kind and forgiving to yourself as well as to others. They get things wrong, too. Communicate with truth, kindness and compassion to strengthen your relationship and build a long-term future of happiness. Andrea Harrn is a BACP registered counsellor and a leading expert on passive aggressive behaviour. She is also the creator of ‘The Mood Cards’ series of books and card decks. Learn more and get in touch with her at andreaharrn.co.uk Andrea has developed a questionnaire to help determine if passive aggressive behaviour is affecting your relationship. Visit bit.ly/PArelationship to find out more.

September 2018 • happiful • 69


Happiful Hack

M T W T F S S

How to manage

homesickness at university

In your few first weeks at university, you’re surrounded by confident, outgoing people who are taking everything in their stride. At least that’s how it may seem... But if you’re struggling, the odds are you won’t be the only one longing for the green grass of home. And the good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to feel happier and more settled in your new adventure Writing | Lucy Winrow

S

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

tarting university is an exciting time for many people, as they move away from home and take their first steps towards a dream career. However, you might be surprised to learn that a lot of these people will

70 • happiful • September 2018

also be feeling homesick – a condition that the National Union of Students estimate affects between 50–70% of new students at some point. If you find yourself pining for home comforts, struggling to eat and sleep, frequently crying, or doubting

whether you should even be at university, you won’t be the only one. While this can be distressing, particularly when you feel you should be enjoying yourself, there are steps you can take to help manage these feelings.


Life LESSONS

1 Go easy on yourself

Remind yourself that throughout your life, you’ve dealt with transitions before and will do so again. This process is often necessary to make way for positive change, even if it’s difficult at the time. Adjusting to student life brings its own academic, financial and social challenges, which are made easier if you know what to expect. Recognising this, the Student Minds charity recently launched two guides — Know Before You Go, aimed at school and college leavers, and Transitions, for current university students — both free to download from their website. Developed with students, they offer advice including how to get along with housemates, manage money, and find support for mental health issues.

you enjoyed at home, or have a go at something completely new. Getting to know people before you leave for uni can help take the pressure off too, so ask if there’s a Facebook group for your course and introduce yourself. Moving in will be that bit easier if you’ve already (virtually) broken the ice. At the University of Birmingham, their Flatmate Finder app links students with their flatmates or coursemates who’ll be living nearby, and users can choose how much personal information they share.

T F S S

3 Building friendships

Putting time into building friendships is another way to shift the focus from missing home and to keep busy. Freshers’ Week includes a range of social events (enjoyed with and without alcohol), and opportunities to join societies where you can pursue a hobby

It can be tempting to hide away if you’re feeling homesick, but an open door sends the message that you are approachable and looking to make friends

5 Seek support

2 A home from home

Whether you’re in student halls or private accommodation, this will be your home for the year, and it’s important that you feel relaxed and happy in this space. Small touches like displaying your favourite photos help to personalise your room. And don’t forget a doorstop – it can be tempting to hide away if you’re feeling homesick, but an open door sends the message that you’re approachable and looking to make friends! At the University of Liverpool, student representatives arrange regular events such as pizza parties and film nights at their halls of residence to help build a sense of community. If something similar is not on offer to you, why not ask flatmates if they fancy giving this a try.

into the university term, suggesting a lot of homesick students. While booking a trip home gives you something to look forward to, going too often means you’ll miss out on opportunities to socialise and make friends at uni. Mix it up by asking people to visit you too, and show them the sights of your new town.

5

ESSENTIAL IDEAS

4 Stay in touch

It’s important to stay in touch with friends and family back home – they know you better than anyone and can really help to lift your spirits. Download Skype and you can have face-to-face conversations, free over an internet connection, no matter how far away you are. But give yourself the chance to develop friendships at university too. You could see a call home as a reward for striking up a conversation in class, or joining a student-led volunteering scheme. Research shows there is a spike in young persons’ rail travel three weeks

If student life is still a struggle despite your best efforts, speak to someone; as the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you would rather speak anonymously, you can call Nightline — a late-night listening service run by students. University staff are also experienced in supporting homesick students, so visit the wellbeing section of your university’s website for more information. Registering with a GP during your first week will also give you another option for emotional support, if needed. If your concerns lie around whether the university or course are right for you, schedule an appointment with your personal tutor to talk this through and explore your options. The important thing is to take your time, make use of the resources available, and be kind to yourself. Lucy Winrow works on the ProtectED project – the first national accreditation scheme for student safety, security and wellbeing at UK universities. Find out more about the project on Twitter @ProtectED_HEI September 2018 • happiful • 71


Spicy coconut stew Serves 4 Ingredients 1 tbsp cooking oil (we used coconut oil here) 2 red onions, chopped 4 crushed garlic cloves 2 green chillies, sliced 400g mushrooms, sliced 100g frozen peas 100g cauliflower, roughly chopped 200g baby corn/mangetout mix 4 tsp tamari or soy sauce 2 cans coconut milk For a more curry-like dish, add chicken, prawns or tofu.

O U R B ATC H C O O K IN G FAVO U R IT E

Method • Add the oil to a large pot over medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes. • In another pan, add the cauliflower to water. Bring to boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. • Add the garlic, mushrooms, baby corn, mangetout and chilli to the large pot, and sauté for another minute. Add the chickpeas and soy sauce, stir over heat for a minute and add the coconut milk. Add the cauliflower and mix. Let simmer for 15 minutes and add the frozen peas. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, and serve. If feeding a meal for two, serve hot in a bowl and portion up the rest into Tupperware. Store in the fridge and enjoy for the next 3–4 days. 72 • happiful • September 2018


Healthy EATS

THINGS ARE HEATING UP! Cook once, eat twice, thrice (or four times) with our spicy coconut stew

W

hen you come in from a long day at work, a weekend away, or a busy day of socialising, the idea of cooking a meal may seem tiresome, if not downright dreadful. Even if you love cooking, sometimes you want food without hassle or thought. Yep, time for a takeaway. Delicious, yet not always the most nutritious, not to mention costly. So what if you had a recipe that you need only cook once, yet can eat twice, or even three nights running, depending on your appetite? That’s right, batch cooking is a great way to save time and money, as well as giving an opportunity to be more experimental in the kitchen, and up your fruit and veg intake tenfold. From chilli con carne to curry or stew, batch cooking is cheap, cheerful and the recipes are easy to amend to

fit your taste. Each week, I plan to include at least one batch cooked meal, ready to pop in the fridge for my lunches, or an “emergency meal” for those days when I’m feeling a bit lazy. And that’s the thing with batch cooking; you need very little cooking talent. All you need is a big pot, a splash of imagination and plenty of leftover veggies (oh, and a stack of storage tubs!). This spicy coconut stew is perfect for so many occasions – whether you’re hosting a dinner party with friends, cooking a meal for two, or batch cooking your lunches for the week ahead. It’s warming, packed with veggies and has just the right amount of spice to warm your cockles for the cooler months ahead.

Writing | Ellen Hogga

rd

Our nutritionist Amy Prior says… I just love this recipe! Anything that can be slow or batch cooked is fantastic in my opinion. We all live busy, hectic lives, so a recipe like this that can be made and reheated when needed is perfect. Using red onions instead of white is a great, easy way to get another colour into the dish – the anthocyanins contained in the red onion (which gives the onion its colour) are antioxidants and so beneficial to health. Tamari is a lovely inclusion here as it is fermented and gluten-free, so good for coeliacs. Often recipes with many ingredients can be troublesome for those with intolerances and allergies. The variety of vegetables used here is excellent. We all know we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, but really variety is key. I’d much rather clients eat 10 varieties, even if they aren’t the full portion. We have seven varieties in this recipe, and there’s still scope to add more, because dishes like this are just so versatile! Sticky rice can spike blood sugar, so swapping for brown or basmati can help. Or you can even take out the cauliflower and make a side of caulirice as a creative twist on this recipe. Amy Prior is a registered nutritional practitioner, specialising in women and children’s health, and weight loss. Amy is passionate about helping clients improve their relationship with food.

September 2018 • happiful • 73


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E AT, S H O P, S AV E As seen on ITV

The

Medicinal Photography | ITV: Eat, Shop, Save

Chef

After his challenges with acne sparked a passion for nutrition, Dale Pinnock carved out a career in supporting people’s health. With his hit ITV show – Eat, Shop, Save – returning for a second series, Dale serves some nutritional nuggets on how to support our mental health, reduce waste and make the weekly shop go further Writing | Maurice Richmond

What inspired you to explore the mental boost we can get from food?

Seeing how well people respond mentally and emotionally to cleaning up their diet. A lot of people overlook the brain as being a nervous and physiological system, and as such it has its own specific nutritional requirements. If those aren’t met, the functionality of that system is going to be affected. With mental health, so many issues can exacerbate the situation. Obviously we have experiential stimuli, things can go wrong and create massive problems. We also have biochemical influences on mental health. While nutrition isn’t a “magic bullet”, it can support us on that biochemical level.

Things like zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and iron are involved in neurotransmitter production and omega 3 fatty acids help regulate neurotransmitter receptor function. Magnesium is involved in the release of GABA, so in issues like anxiety we know this can help calm things down.

What are the biggest pressures on our shopping lists?

Sometimes people are under financial constraints, or lack confidence in the kitchen. Some people are working every hour god sends. Sometimes there are fussy eaters in the family. There’s lots of practical ways of addressing that, no matter what your situation is. In the show, there’s nothing sensationalist and we’re not turning up Continues >>>


Food & Drink

to a council estate with a bag from Whole Foods. We look at families and their unique situations, what’s local, and tweak their day-to-day life. Simple hacks can make a world of difference.

All but one of the families we worked with really wanted to change. I think a lot of us are conscious that eating healthier is important Quickfire questions Favourite meal? (Laughs) That’s like asking someone to choose their favourite child. I’m not sure I can answer that; it depends on my mood. I am a massive fan of sushi, Indian food and a pizza sometimes. Your go-to meal? Either a Sunday roast, or maple mustard salmon with spiced squashed puree and miso aubergines. The treat you can’t say no to? A glass of red wine. Strangest thing you’ve eaten? Puffer fish – if it’s not prepared in the right way, it can kill you in about 30 seconds. It’s a real delicacy in Japan; chefs have to be licenced to prepare it! Sea urchin is a bit weird too, and it’s foul. One food never in your kitchen? Margarine, you’ll never see it there ever.

76 • happiful • September 2018

What stands out with the families you have worked with on the show?

girl who wouldn’t try any vegetables other than peas. She was partial to a chicken curry. So we created a potato soup with garlic and onions, sauteed those, added sweet potato and a little bit of stock, simmered it, pureed it and then added turmeric, cumin and garam masala to make a base. We then cooked the chicken in that sauce, so it was looking and tasting a lot like a restaurant korma. She loved it – half way through the meal we said: “That’s sweet potato you’re eating.” Sometimes it’s just the texture or smell that people didn’t like. There’s no reason why you can’t alter things, tweak flavours, and change the state of the ingredient.

What’s the secret to being more adventurous with food?

How do we maximise our grocery shop to get the right balance between spending and saving on food?

All but one of the families we worked with really wanted to change. So I don’t think we are a nation that couldn’t give a monkey’s about our own health. I think a lot of us are conscious that eating healthier is important. The problem was getting clarity on what a good diet looks like and what healthy means. The wonderful revelation has been seeing people learn simple concepts. In the last season, people were losing excess weight, sleeping better and meal times were less traumatic. All of these things improved with the tiniest of changes.

Start with what they’re prepared to eat in the first place, then work it out. In the last series, there was a little

It depends where you shop. I always encourage people to understand what is in your local area. If you’re reliant on the big chain supermarket, sometimes you may be overspending. See if you have a market nearby – sometimes you can spend less than a tenner and come back with bags and bags of fresh ingredients. Think outside of the box when it comes to your shopping, because so many people go to the same place week-in, week-out.

Food waste is a worry too. What can we do to maximise our cupboard shelf-life?

I’m quite a fan of frozen fruit and veg; nutritionally speaking, freezing is no less superior than buying as fresh. Freezing protects a lot of the fragile nutrients like the B vitamins and vitamin C. When you compare the frozen stuff with that sold as fresh, frozen things have higher levels of the micronutrients anyway. It’s an ideal way to do things; take out what you need from the packet and it will last for months and months.


What are most people missing from their diets?

Omega 3 fatty acids is a huge one. What you get from oily fish is vital for cardiovascular health and the brain particularly. With mental health, omega 3 fatty acids are very important, but we don’t get anywhere near enough, and we tend to get too much omega 6, which can contribute to inflammatory overload. Cutting back on vegetable oils, margarine, processed food, and increasing your intake of oily fish can get the balance right. Omega 6 is important in tiny amounts, but on average we consume 23 times more than what we actually need each day.

Recipe | Eat, Shop, Save: Dale Pinnock published by Hamlyn

How can we allocate time in the kitchen into our daily routine?

If time is the issue, think of it less as a daily routine and more of a weekly one. I always encourage people to batch cook. If you have a day where you’ve got a couple of spare hours, get in the kitchen, cook your favourite dishes but three, four, five times bigger than you normally would. Then freeze individual portions. When you’re busy in the week, all you’ve got to do is bang something out of the freezer in the morning. You come home from work and it’s defrosted in the fridge, warm it through, job done. It’s such a simple way to get ahead. I have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to batch cooking as it was such a hit last series. Watch ‘Eat, Shop, Save’ on the ITV Hub and try all of Dale Pinnock’s recipes from his book “Eat, Shop, Save” (Mitchell Beazley, £14.99).

NORTH AFRICAN SPICED VEGETABLES, COUSCOUS AND HALLOUMI

Eat RIGHT

SERVES 4 PREP 5 MINS COOK 35 MINS • 250g halloumi cheese • 1 large red onion, halved and sliced lengthways • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped • Olive oil • 1 red pepper, deseeded and diced • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and diced • 1 large courgette, cut into half circles • 1 small aubergine, diced • 400g tomato passata • 2 teaspoons cumin • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika • 250g couscous • 1 teaspoon stock powder • Salt and pepper, to taste

• In a large saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, along with a good pinch of salt, until the onion begins to soften. • Add the remaining vegetables, mix well, and continue to cook for 7–8 minutes until the veg softens. • Add the passata and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the veg is completely cooked. Add the spices and taste. If you feel it needs more spice or seasoning, now is the time to do it. • While the veg is simmering, place the couscous in a bowl with the stock powder and add enough boiling water to cover it by about 1cm. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit until ready to serve. • Slice the halloumi width ways into eight equal slices. Gently pan fry until golden on each side. • Plate up with the couscous in the centre, dollop on a generous helping of the vegetables, then place the halloumi on top. Divine! September 2018 • happiful • 77


Lifestyle & Relationships

Hoarding, Teen Carers, And Modern Family Dynamics Author Rachael Lucas’s latest teen novel shows the subtle ways parental mental ill-health can impact on loved ones around them Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

D

espite changing attitudes, it’s still rare to see mainstream teen novels tackling the highs – and lows – of mental health. My Box-Shaped Heart follows the story of 16-year-old Holly, a Scottish teen who only feels like she’s in control when she’s swimming. A typical teenage lead, Holly feels judged for the unfashionably torn and too small clothes she wears, painfully aware of her frizzy hair, tall frame, and the little bit of extra weight she carries. While she wholeheartedly loves her mum, she can’t help but be embarrassed by her hoarding. Unlike an average teen, Holly finds herself taking on the role of her mother’s carer. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, and trying to motivate her mother into getting out of bed, we see Holly put her mother’s welfare above her own. We learn again and again how Holly wants to deflect attention away from her mother’s lack of presence in her day-to-day wellbeing, to avoid anyone looking too closely into their home life.

78 • happiful • September 2018

When an accident leaves Fiona, Holly’s mother, in need of an ambulance, her pride and fear of having Holly taken away wins out. Her accident acts as a catalyst for change for both herself and Holly. Presenting itself in many ways as a simple love story between Holly and Ed, a keen swimmer with a mysterious past who literally crashes into her life at the pool, My Box-Shaped Heart looks at so much more. Holly’s desire to escape – from her home, from the clutter, her day-to-day reality – feels relatable and understandable. Her wariness of the support offered by others, particularly her mother’s friend and neighbour Cessi, has a clear basis but still leaves readers wishing Holly would reach out. As Holly’s mother begins her physical recovery, we see the first steps towards her mental recovery as well. As her journey progresses, so too we see Holly’s move towards acceptance: that she doesn’t have to be the one who worries, who cares, and who’s responsible for being organised all the time.

Intertwined throughout, we see the importance and impact families can have on our lives. From the longlasting reaches of parental mental health on children, to the modern mashups of step-families, support networks, and loved ones we grow to care about as much as our own flesh and blood, My Box-Shaped Heart shows us messy, believable families.


Book REVIEW

My Box-Shaped Heart blends together a whole spectrum of teen coming-of-age experiences, from the everyday mundane, to the rarely talked about aspects of modern life Presenting parental depression in an unusual way for teen fiction, Holly’s mum doesn’t just feel “down” or “dazed”. We hear early on that attempts to tackle her hoarding leave her exhausted, anxious, or argumentative. Fiona is clearly in no place to look after herself or others, yet her own teenage experiences with her mother’s mental ill-health leave her afraid to seek help. The author expertly weaves in positive, effective ways people with depression can get help, from seeking a diagnosis, to the potentially life-changing impact cognitive behavioural therapy and medication can have, as well as the everyday benefits mindfulness can have for everyone. My Box-Shaped Heart also shows the less positive aspects of mental ill-health, insensitivity, and misunderstandings. Featuring few positive male role models, one in particular, Neil, Holly’s exstepfather, embodies countless fears that those who experience mental ill-health have, rolled up into one insensitive, self-centred, bodyshaming, clueless package. Despite the multiple negative male figures, the characters do add a feeling of authenticity for those who have worried about their mental health and other people’s reactions,

while giving those who may not have considered it a deeper insight into the impact a few ill-placed words can have. Holly seems overly mature and almost too well put together in places for someone who is just 16. Taking into account her experiences, acting in many ways as her mother’s carer, her maturity and need to grow up faster than her peers comes across as believable. My Box-Shaped Heart blends together a whole spectrum of teen coming-of-age experiences, from the everyday mundane, to the rarely talked about aspects of modern life. It shows readers what it’s like to be in that awful in-between phase: not quite grown up yet not a child, expected to take on responsibilities yet lacking the power to have the final say. For those who have never considered the hidden pressures other teens may be under, Holly’s story can give them a new insight into the challenges of being a teenage carer. For those who have or are experiencing parental mental ill-health, Fiona’s journey and progress shows the impact seeking treatment and support can have. Written by Rachael Lucas, published by Macmillan Children’s Books, out now (RRP £6.99)

From the long-lasting reaches of parental mental health on children, to the modern mashups of stepfamilies and support networks, My BoxShaped Heart shows us messy, believable modern families

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE: For young children The Colour Thief By Gabriel Alborozo Tackling parental depression, reassuring children it isn’t their fault, and explaining things will get better.

For pre-teens The Illustrated Mum By Jacqueline Wilson Dolphin adores her mum, but her unpredictable moods can be hard. Is she the right person to be looking after them?

For teens and young adults The Impossible Knife of Memory Laurie Halse Anderson Hayley and her veteran father try to make a new life for themselves, but her father’s mental ill-health threatens to unravel everything.

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Charity of the Month

Photography | Scope

Scope:

Equality and fairness for everyone

Nearly half of the British public claim they don’t know a disabled person, and yet one in five of us is disabled. Two-thirds of Brits feel awkward around disability, and some people feel so awkward that they’re avoiding disabled people altogether. Scope is the charity working to stamp that awkwardness out

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oday, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK, 8% of whom are children, 18% are working-age adults, and 45% are pension-age adults. Scope is one of the UK’s leading disability charities offering support, information and a community hub for these individuals and their families.

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Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

“We want to drive societal change so that disabled people can enjoy equality and fairness in society,” Scope’s chief executive, Mark Atkinson, tells us. So how are they doing it? ADDRESSING AWKWARDNESS A 2014 survey by Scope found that 67% of the British public felt uncomfortable talking to disabled people.

“Awkwardness occurs when people are worried about saying or doing the wrong thing, so they end up avoiding disabled people altogether,” says Mark. “Often this awkwardness comes from a place of innocent ignorance, but familiarity and understanding are key to breaking down barriers.” This awkwardness can make life for disabled people uncomfortable, but it


Pushing PROGRESS

Talking About Disability

Scope’s chief executive, Mark Atkinson

can also lead to missed opportunities at work, with disabled people being more than twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. Despite the statistics, Scope has found that stigma and negative attitudes often go unnoticed by non-disabled people, with the gap between disabled people and non-disabled people’s impression of negative attitudes trebling in nearly two decades. “We’ve called this the Disability Perception Gap,” says Mark. “Unless we recognise negative attitudes exist, we can’t challenge or improve them. That’s why we need to ensure there is better visibility and representation of disabled people in everyday life.” Partnering with Virgin Media, Scope works with employers to challenge misguided and outdated attitudes. A three-year campaign called “Work With Me” aims to support one million disabled people to get into, and stay in, work. The campaign has the support of

Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson, who said: “I strongly believe looking at the world in a different way to everyone else is a strength that should be praised and encouraged. Don’t define others by what they can’t do, but look for what they can do, and support them to do it.”

67% of the British public felt uncomfortable talking to disabled people EVERYDAY EQUALITY In 2017, Scope launched Everyday Equality, their five-year strategy which sets out how they will work to drive social change so that disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.

To cut out the awkwardness around disability, Scope has put together some tips to help everyone feel more confident interacting with people with disabilities. When talking to a disabled person, make sure you: •D  on’t describe someone as “the disabled one” Learn their names as you would do with anyone else. • Do not make assumptions Everyone is different and can do different things, so it’s important not to make assumptions about someone’s ability. •D  on’t say “you don’t look disabled” Not all impairments can be seen, and it’s important not to expect all disabled people to look or act a certain way. •D  on’t ask inappropriate questions Disabled people often get asked intrusive questions about their lives. Get to know them the same way you would anyone else. •D  o not assume people want or need your help Taking charge and giving help when it isn’t needed takes the control away from a disabled person. Offer help if you can, but follow their lead and let it go if you’re turned down.

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Charity of the Month

BEV’S STORY Bev feels more supported now she’s a part of the Scope online community

“Life today is much harder for disabled people than it needs to be,” says Mark. “Disabled people have told us the challenges they face are changing. So we’re changing to meet those challenges with them.” Scope listened to the priorities that disabled people said mattered most to them: • Getting the best start in life Scope will improve opportunities for disabled children and their families, and ensure that disabled young people have the same opportunities as everyone else. • Living the life they choose Scope will increase disabled people’s power and influence so that they are able to live the life they choose. • Being financially secure Scope will reduce the gap between the percentage of disabled people and non-disabled people in work, and will tackle the financial penalty associated with disability. To find out more about how Scope plans to enact their strategy, visit the charity’s website. DRIVE FOR CHANGE Scope can only continue to do their life-changing work thanks to the

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Don’t define others by what they can’t do, but look for what they can do, and support them to do it generous support from the public. But if you choose to donate, where can you expect your donation to go? “We’re working to influence government policy, attitudes and championing the rights of disabled consumers,” says Mark. “We run services that offer support, information and advice to disabled people and their families, such as our helpline. We’re also campaigning to transform attitudes to disability, change laws and tackle stigma. All of this will only be possible with your continuing support. “We know there’s a lot still to be done and we won’t stop until Britain is a country where disabled people can reach their potential and live the life they choose.” To make a one-off donation or to set up a monthly standing order, visit scope.org.uk/donate

“Have you been stared at today? I mean, really stared at so you feel uncomfortable and judged? When I became disabled, I was surprised by how differently I was treated. I went through a traumatic time; first my hearing went. I then had to cope with problems walking, slurring my words and blurred vision, and I started using a wheelchair. One day, my husband politely asked a woman to let us pass with me in the wheelchair. She gave my husband a nasty look – he found himself apologising even though we hadn’t done anything wrong. What made it worse was I couldn’t hear what the woman was saying. All I could see was everyone just standing still and watching. I felt so degraded. It happened again and again – people ignoring me and talking to my husband instead. I went out less, and became very lonely. On top of everything else, I was facing financial difficulties. At my lowest point, I felt I couldn’t go on. It was a question about the benefits I was entitled to that drove me to seek support, and that’s when I discovered Scope’s online community. Thanks to Scope, I went from feeling alone to finding a whole community of people to listen and support me. I now have a diagnosis and medication, and I’ve won my fight to get a carer’s allowance. I’ve even found time to focus on arts and crafts, which I love. I know that, whatever happens, Scope’s online community will be there for me. It’s been a very hard journey, and I still struggle some days. But Scope is my lifeline.” Join over 20,000 users on Scope’s online forums: community.scope.org.uk


Understanding

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects an estimated 5% of children worldwide, but what actually is it? And how can we better support children in getting a diagnosis and the treatment they need? Writing | Simon Mathias

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ttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition usually identified in childhood, and most of the time it shows as disruptive, fidgety or highly energetic behaviour. This is often noted at school or at home, and can leave parents feeling exhausted by trying to keep their child occupied and out of mischief. Left untreated, children can suffer with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and are likely to experience problems in their later years and adulthood. But when identified early, and with good support, this is less likely.

– Easily distracted – Forgetful and disorganised –F  ails to finish homework or other tasks • H  yperactivity and impulsiveness includes: –U  nable to sit still – Fidgety –U  nable to settle with tasks –T  alks excessively – Unable to wait their turn –B  lurts answers before questions finished – Interrupts – Little or no sense of danger • A combination of these elements

What are the symptoms?

Common myths

Symptoms tend to fit into one of three types:

Behaviour in children varies greatly and can be categorised in simple terms as normal, troubled or troubling. However, as adults we all have a picture of what is good behaviour and what is bad behaviour and we tend to use this as rule of thumb. The behaviours

• Inattentiveness (also called attention deficit disorder) includes: – Short attention span and lack of concentration

ADHD is classed as a developmental disorder, and is a medical condition. ADHD does not discriminate, and it occurs in all social groups associated with ADHD can be subtle, but occur in a range of situations so while people may misunderstand the condition, it’s worth remembering the following: • ADHD is classed as a developmental disorder and is a medical condition. • Girls get ADHD, although it occurs more in boys. • ADHD does not discriminate, and it occurs in all social groups. • Understanding and support is required to help both the child and parents. Tough love regimes can make things worse. Continues >>>

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How is it diagnosed? A diagnosis of ADHD takes time, and it is not uncommon for a diagnosis to be made six to 12 months after being referred. While this can be frustrating, it is important to eliminate other causes of behaviour that could look like ADHD. The process is like an assessment and has three key stages: A consultation, which will be carried out by a healthcare professional who could be a psychologist, psychiatrist, paediatrician, or a specially trained nurse. The idea is to understand what has been happening up until now at home and in school, and clarify what the problems are. There are usually two consultations to do this, and they can last between one and two hours.

Often, schools can be the first to notice the symptoms of ADHD and may be able to help in progressing an assessment A medical, which is carried out by a doctor and is to rule out any other underlying physical conditions that might be causing the behaviour. If ADHD is diagnosed and medication is required, it provides a good baseline of the child’s physical condition. An observation, which is usually carried out in the home/social setting, and in the educational setting. It often includes other developmental and literacy assessments. There is no test for ADHD, so it is important to get an accurate assessment. At the outset, it may take some time to convince the GP that your child’s behaviour should be reviewed. Often, schools can be the first to notice the symptoms of ADHD, and may be able to help in progressing an assessment.

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Photography | Gabby Orcutt

What is the standard treatment?

Helpful hints

There are two main treatment options:

Managing behaviour without having coping strategies is stressful for everyone involved. To help, here’s some advice: • Rules and boundaries should be clear, few in number, with defined consequences of poor behaviour. • Be consistent and firm in applying rules. Changing them makes it difficult for kids to learn and adapt. • Reward good behaviour with immediate praise, and by paying them attention. • Let some things go; know which behaviours are intolerable, manage these and ignore the others. • Break tasks into small chunks. This will help concentration. You can build up the size of the chunk as concentration increases. Be patient. • Routines and structures help to keep them on track. Changes and additions should be introduced slowly. • Being busy is good. But you don’t need to cram their schedule with afterschool activities though, just keep them stimulated. • Exercise is a good way to expel surplus energy. Structured exercise such as swimming can help to develop skills, movement and attention. • A healthy diet and structured meal times can be helpful. Certain foods and drinks can overstimulate, such as sugar, caffeine, additives and processed foods, so be careful. • A good night’s sleep is essential. Establish a routine, such as an extended storytime, gentle music, or a warm bath. The secret is to get them relaxed and settled.

1. Therapies aim to support the child with ways of managing the behaviours. These tend to be used before medication and require time, practice and patience. The main approaches are counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, behaviour therapy, and family therapy. However, not all of these approaches may be available in your area through the NHS. What is important is the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the child. The therapist should have some experience in working with ADHD or other behaviouralbased issues. 2. Medication that is designed to support concentration. There are presently five types of medication, which are prescribed at low dose and, if required, gradually increased to find the dose that works. All medications have side effects, and you should discuss medication treatment thoroughly with the doctor. The five medication types are: – Methylphenidate – Dexamfetamine – Lisdexamfetamine – Atomoxetine – Guanfacine What causes ADHD? There are several factors which contribute to the chance of having ADHD but there is no single cause. There is a link with the structure and functioning of the brain, as it tends to run in families and children at risk will be those with low birthweight or premature, epilepsy or brain damage.

There are many sources of information, help and advice on ADHD, but a good place to start is by visiting nhs.uk, as well as local groups, schools and your GP. Simon Mathias is a psychotherapist, writer, speaker and expert in behaviour. He has a particular interest in ADHD and works with children, families and adults. He can be contacted on Counselling Directory or simon@aspireconsultancy.net

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my creative bio

Finding My Path

with the Life Coach Directory

Creativity is all about thinking in new and different ways. It often involves storytelling and expressing emotion, which is what we tend to see from writers, artists and musicians. It’s also about problem-solving, idea generating and thinking “outside the box”, making it imperative for those launching their own business.

Creative coaching is a tool to help people develop their creative skills and work through any barriers holding them back. And no, it’s not just for those in the artistic field! We encourage you to find your inner artist. What will you put in your creative bio?

Get creating!

To learn more about creative coaching or to find a coach near you, visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk

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Fill this space with your: name passions and interests skills dreams and goals bucket list self-portrait


Oli’s Story

Man up? No don’t Throughout his life, Oli Regan felt like an outsider, not able to vocalise his feelings for fear of what people might think. But after finally receiving a diagnosis of ADHD, bipolar and anxiety at 25, he saw an opportunity to help himself, and speak out for other men too

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ver the course of five years, I had four suicide attempts. But today I’m here, and I’ve found my purpose. Things really began when I was around eight. I grew up as an only child – or “lonely child” as eight-year-old me would say – and often felt left out and different to the other children. Things that made the other kids happy didn’t mean anything to me. I was the loner

in the playground, but I didn’t seek help; I just kept it to myself, which was the worst thing I could have done. But at that age, there wasn’t any information about mental health for me to know any better. My only knowledge of mental illness was from films – where people were locked up in a straitjacket and thrown into a padded cell. At the time, my instinct was to suppress my feelings, which kind of worked for a while, but

then when I hit 17 I knew things weren’t right. In fact, they were far from it. I began taking drugs and was drinking excessively, and looking back I just put this down to being a typical teenager. My behaviour was anything but typical though – I was always the one that took it over the top, so if someone drank a double, I’d drink the bottle. I was the type of person you’d want at the party, if only just to laugh at. Continues >>> September 2018 • happiful • 87


Finding My Path

Oli’s Story I had some friends by this point – although, they used me for money, drugs, or alcohol. But because I was craving friendship, I would allow people to walk all over me. I was left wondering: “What’s wrong with me? Why am I such a bad person that they don’t want to be a ‘real’ friend?” Around this age, my moods became uncontrollable; I couldn’t predict how I’d feel in the next hour, let alone the next day, week or year. All this culminated in a stage of my life where I lost so many of my friends and family because of my actions when I was going through one of these “moments”. I realised something was wrong, but I was scared to talk about it. My instinct was to keep my chin up, because that’s what I was told to do by teachers, parents and my family.

Oli suffered in silence, afraid to speak out in case he changed people’s opinions of him

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I was afraid of what people would think if they found out how I was feeling though. When we starting going to house parties in our teens, I think this is why I tried to make people laugh by doing impressions, or telling anecdotes, while deep down I was hurting. Sometimes the people with the most pain hide behind the biggest smiles – which can be why it’s so hard for close ones to help with your mental health, as you can become the best actor just by being someone else in your day-to-day life. After losing my apprenticeship at 18, splitting up with my girlfriend, and arguing with my family, I felt like a burden. I knew I was taking my problems out on my mum, and could see it was breaking her, but she didn’t understand my condition and why I was being the way I was. I decided my family would be better off without me – not having to worry or be subjected to my despicable behaviour. So I made a plan – where to get the tablets, how many I needed, how long they would take to work, and where my mum would be so she wouldn’t find me. I planned everything in such precise detail. Then I took an overdose for the first time, and I felt free – free of all the bad thoughts. But hours later I woke up in hospital, and to my disbelief, was told by the

Sometimes the people with the most pain hide behind the biggest smiles A&E nurse that if I’d taken “X” amount of tablets, I’d have done it properly. After hearing that, I did my best to lie my way out of any crisis team aftercare they offered. I sought help from a GP at 19 years old, but was misdiagnosed with depression, when in reality I had bipolar, anxiety and severe ADHD – which wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 25. After years of no help, and being classed as a toerag, I ended up feeling even more isolated and left out of society than before. During this time, I made another three suicide attempts. I couldn’t get past the feeling that I was a burden to those around me. But eventually getting the right diagnosis made me realise that I wasn’t alone. I was offered help from a lovely charity called Bromley Y, but they are only able to support clients up until they are 21. I just didn’t know what to do with my life. I felt so useless. But luckily, I had learned some techniques over the years so that I could start helping myself. As an actor by trade, I know I can lose myself in the


True LIFE

Photography | OnPoint Headshots

Oli’s aim is to help XXXXXXX other men, so they don’t feel unsupported like he did

roles – just as I did in playing the part of someone who’s “fine” in real life – so I use grounding techniques like interacting with the real world by focusing on smells, textures and birds tweeting. Bringing yourself into the now with these mindfulness techniques can help while you’re waiting for support, which can take a long time. Self-help has been a major factor in my recovery. My experiences made me decide to start campaigning for men’s mental health, looking to support people from a working-class background to make sure no other young man has to feel like I did. Men’s egos let them down, and the stigma around men’s mental health is unbelievable. By doing media representation for charities, I hope to make a big change. I was nominated for an EssexTV award for my campaign @DontManUp, and was a runner up in the Janey Antoniou 2015 awards for breaking the stigma of

Men’s egos let them down, and the stigma around men’s mental health is unbelievable

mental health. I even wrote and directed a film called Fractured Minds about men’s mental health, based on my own story. After volunteering for a year with Mind and learning about mindfulness, wellbeing and mental health first aid, it’s made life worth living. I’m helping people I don’t personally know every day, which is a really humbling experience. I’d like anyone who suffers to tell the people you trust. Keeping your feelings bottled up is like taking a fizzy drink and shaking it up – you’re going to burst at some point, so it’s better to deal with it at the time! Helping others helps my mental health in a major way. Realising I wasn’t alone was the start of everything I do now, and there is support out there – you might just need a helping hand to get there. Our current system is failing so many people, you’ll often be waiting a long time to

find your support. Learning to help yourself might make all the difference. I hope I leave that legacy, if any, in the mental health world, and for my little boy, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have had much to fight for. My little man was born three months ago, and I’ve never felt a love like it; he’s my world. Fast-cycling bipolar is hard to deal with, but I stay steady and strong on the path I’m destined for because I know I need to be in his life. I need to be there for him as a father figure. My advice for new dads is keep on fighting for them – they need you!

Our Expert Says Oli’s story underlines both the issues with our strained mental health services, and the powerful role self-help can play in managing mental illness. Playing to his strengths, and using grounding techniques, made a real difference for Oli. Finding a way to reach out and talk when you are suffering is important advice; shame is an emotion that thrives on secrecy and can ruin lives. Know that whatever you are experiencing, you are not wrong or unworthy. We are all unique, important, and deserving of empathy and help. Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) Psychotherapst and clinical supervisor

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Happiful Hero

Putting it in print:

Getting us through deadline day

Nominated by the Happiful team, David Phillips is an extended member of our team, who always goes above and beyond to get us through the most stressful times

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his month, the unsung hero we want to honour is quite a personal one who means a lot to our team; someone who has gone beyond his job role to support us in the most highly pressurised periods of our work, and is always a helpful and friendly voice on the end of the phone. After 30 years of devoted work at Pensord, our wonderful printers, our extended team member and invaluable account manager, David, is retiring. Across his time at Pensord, he’s established Send your fantastic working nominations to relationships hello@happiful.com with all his clients – something we can certainly attest to. To thank him for all his support as our magazine has got off the ground, and for his countless kind words when we needed

Do you know an unsung hero?

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them most, we want to recognise that, in reality, he’s been a hero to us every month. Our art director, Amy-Jean Burns, has worked particularly closely with David for some time, and is certainly going to miss him and all he brings to our team. “David has been our rock this past year, with his ongoing support and positive attitude towards Happiful, and particularly for keeping David with his step-daughter Sara h, who also works at Pe nsord me calm during deadlines, reprints and last minute changes!” been an absolute pleasure, and I will she says. really miss him. From all of us here And while we wish we could keep I want to thank him for everything him on our team forever, we know he’s done, and wish him all the best his ever-expanding family can’t with his retirement.” wait to get more time with him The only problem we have now at home. is that we don’t know what we’ll In a sentiment that we all share, do without him! Enjoy your wellAmy says: “Working with David has deserved rest, David.


Photography |Tyler Nix

FIND PLEASURE IN THE LITTLE THINGS “Life’s too mysterious to take too serious.” – Mary Engelbreit


Find the help you deserve. Speak with one of our

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Happiful September 2018