Make a Comfort Box – Beat #Depression


Tip 3 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

It’s often hard to remember the good things in life when you are feeling low in mood.  At such times happiness and positive memories can seem far away.  Stimulating positive memories and associations can be invaluable in helping to keep us grounded in the real world and help lift the spirit.  Creating a “capsule” containing mementoes from the past can help to evoke feelings of comfort, warmth and personal security during difficult times.

A shoebox, biscuit tin or similar can be used to house objects to inspire hope.  I have a comfort box and mine includes a variety of objects: photographs and even “thank you cards” which I can use as “evidence” to support my being a worthwhile person.  I recommend any of the following:

CD, LP, MP3 of favourite music, chill-out, relaxation, etc.

DVD of favourite film with uplifting, or feel good theme, etc.

Photograph of a loved one or of something or somewhere of importance

Memento of a holiday, postcard, seashell, souvenir, foreign money, flight ticket stubs, booklet or programme from places visited

A note, card or letter from a loved one or write a letter to yourself when feeling well, offering encouragement and re-assurance that you will come through this difficult time

A favourite poem, statement, prayer or article that inspires hope

A favourite book, magazine or colourful picture

A favourite object, i.e. a small stone, crystal, lucky charm or something that is tactile

A sketchpad with crayons or watercolour paints

Aromatic oils for massage, scented candles, bath bombs or bath oils/salts

Herbal teas such as Chamomile, known for its calming properties

Favourite item of clothing, warm jumper or a blanket

A hot water bottle

Vouchers for a massage or beauty treatment

A list of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses of family or friends to whom you can turn for support (try to look for support from more than one person).

A list of national help lines e.g. Samaritans, Sane, MIND, etc. .

Any object associated with feeling happy and well.

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                                Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime at:                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you

It’s good to talk

Sometimes life can seem very overwhelming,  especially if you’re suffering with a mental health problem. For years I have suffered with anxiety and depression. It has affected every aspect of my life from my relationships with partners, friends and family, to my work and even my physical health. My chronic low self esteem has led me to walk with my head down for so many years that my neck and back have slowly deformed and I now have a small hunch. It’s just one more thing to hate about myself, and another reason why I felt I couldn’t live anymore, why I felt I didn’t deserve life.
When I planned my suicide the first time I was at an all time low, but strangely I didn’t recognise that. I felt calm and in control. I made meticulous plans and took my time stockpiling prescription and over the counter drugs. I cheerfully strolled into the supermarket and purchased alcohol. The checkout girl could be forgiven for thinking I was having a party, because in my head I was. I was finally going to be free of all the agonising feelings, the torturous thoughts and the confused state my mind was in. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks and had all my affairs in order. I went home, made sure I left the door unlocked, fed my cat, put on my favourite album and poured myself a large glass.
When I woke up in hospital initially I was devastated, how could it have gone wrong? But as I looked around at the tear stained worried faces I began to realise that maybe people did care about me. Maybe their lack of warmth and comfort towards me was really lack of knowledge and understanding. The question I was continually asked was “why didn’t you tell us that you felt so bad?” Well I thought it was obvious! But apparently it’s not obvious.
When you suffer from depression for a long time you can get very good at keeping your brave face on in public and the inner turmoil you’re feeling may not show on the outside. It’s only once you express that turmoil that people can begin to understand and maybe even help.
Unfortunately this revelation was not the end of my depression and I did wake up in hospital on another 3 occasions. However it did start my journey onto talking, writing and expressing the pent up feelings I had inside of me, which helped other people understand more. I am still suffering with my mental health but I am on the road to recovery. Letting the thoughts and feelings out rather than keeping them hidden in my head has taken the weight off and I feel a little freer of my illness every day.

Thank you anonymous

With all good wishes


Please email your submission posts to                                Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime at:                                                                        Tweet us @ cbt4you

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Managing difficult emotions


 FREE WORKSHOP SERIES                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Friday 28 March 2014                                                                                                             Part 1 — Thinking errors


In March, Sarah Eva will be coordinating the first in a series of workshops at the Camden Centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Sarah is an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and a UKRC Registered Independent Practitioner. She is an experienced and qualified counsellor and cognitive behavioural therapist with many years’ experience working in voluntary, educational, public and private sectors. These include The Priory, at both Brighton and Hove and Ticehurst, working with individual clients as well as facilitating CBT groups.

She provides consultancy to various Barnardo’s projects in Tunbridge Wells which includes working with young people and their carers covering issues of attachment and sexually harmful behaviours. She has worked in a local grammar school providing individual and group work over a period of five years whilst working with Fegans, a charity offering low-cost counselling to families, couples and individuals.

Friday 28 March 2014 

  • 2 pm — 3 pm prompt start 
  • The Camden Centre
    Market Square, Royal Victoria Place
    Tunbridge Wells TN1 2SW 
  • Please email or phone to secure your place as numbers are limited. 

Create a Garden Sanctuary – Beat #Depression


Tip 2 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

When you are depressed and the whole world can seem too much, sometimes just getting out in the garden and away from it all can help.  Whether it is clearing a weedy corner or sitting in a tranquil place, inner calm can come from immersing oneself in nature.  Sitting quietly in the garden can enable you to slow down and escape the rush and hurry, which may have contributed to your present condition.  Studies have shown that gazing at greenery produces a rise in alpha wave activity, which indicates increased mental relaxation. Taking time to reflect is all part of the healing process.  Tidying and pruning an overgrown garden can symbolically help us to create a sense of order, as we thin out and rid ourselves of the unwanted “overgrowth” in our lives, in the same way that watering and tending new seedlings can help us develop the nurturing aspects of ourselves.  Even the smallest of spaces can be transformed into a healing oasis by just adding a few pots and some greenery.

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                         Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Like us @                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

Back to work

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Guest Blog

I have just gone back to work after a two year break. I have an anxiety disorder. I am now working in my local A & E department in a busy hospital . Occupational health have been supporting me but feel I should now declare it to my manager.

I feel I should be standing up while telling you this . My name is Jane and I have Anxiety, like they do at an AA meeting.

I really love being back at work and it has done wonders for my confidence, but if I get over tired I tend to get hypervigilant. While most people think this is hilarious, I have noticed a few nurses starting to avoid me especially if I am doing a tea run.  The worst thing that could happen is if I heard a loud unexpected noise I grab on to the nearest person or object and hold on for dear life.

Thank you Jane (name changed to preserve anonymity)

Well done for getting back to work. It can be really difficult and a major source of anxiety for anyone who has been off work for any length of time. When you have been off with anxiety the prospect of returning can seem very daunting indeed. I think it would be helpful to tell your manager as they will be able to make any reasonable adjustments should you need it. Also hopefully as someone working in health, they “should,” ideally, be more understanding of your situation. Hopefully, they would be able to look out for you at busy times.

As for nurses avoiding you. It is a pity that “understanding” is often thin on the ground, even in the health professions. All we can do is to keep fighting to end stigma and get people talking and promoting greater awareness. Again, your manager being aware should help.

Good luck and best wishes, Steve 

Please email your submission posts to                               Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Like us @                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

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Motherhood and Mental Health

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Guest Blog 

I have spent a large majority of my adult life battling with depression and anxiety, and had developed my own coping mechanisms to weather the storm. These mainly involved eating carb rich foods, drinking large amounts of alcohol at night, and spending most days watching daytime tv in my dressing gown between extended naps. Then something amazing happened, someone fell in love with me, and I started to believe that maybe I wasn’t as useless, hateful and hideous as I felt. For a while I started to feel normal and lived a normal life; I went out, I saw friends, I went on holiday, I even went back to work. I dared to think that my mental health problems were finally behind me.

Then something wonderful happened that destroyed my stability, I had a baby. My baby girl was amazing, she loved me, she needed me, in a way no one ever had before. It didn’t take long for the weight responsibility to weigh down on me, the hormones to drop and the sleep deprivation to kick in. This was the most joyous thing to have ever happened to me but I was depressed, really depressed and every day I cried because I thought my baby girl deserved a better mummy than me, someone that didn’t have a panic attack whenever she dropped her dummy on the floor, or screamed with frustration louder than she did when I couldn’t get her to latch onto my breast.

In time I allowed my health visitor and GP to help me, I began medication once again and gave up trying to be the perfect mum. Recovery was slow but after 17 months I finally felt comfortable being mummy. Then something very unexpected happened, I fell pregnant again.

Immediately I panicked because I was still taking medication, so I swiftly weaned off and began preparing for the new addition to our family. This second pregnancy wasn’t plane sailing, I suffered with terrible morning sickness and was exhausted all the time. Looking after my over excited toddler, working part time and hauling my giant belly around soon took its toll on my fragile mental health. I fell into a deep depression and was referred to a specialist mother and infant mental health team. Once again I reluctantly started medication and waited for a referral to a psychologist. In the meantime I had support from the mental health team, my GP and my health visitor, support I found invaluable.

My daughter had just turned 2 when I gave birth to my son, and everyone told me I had my work cut out, little did they know I was already close to breaking point. This should have been the happiest time of my life but all I could think of was how to escape it. I loved my new son more than anything and became almost obsessed with him, no one else was allowed to hold him, I insisted he co-slept with us to make breastfeeding easier, and I carried him everywhere in a sling. All these things seemed like the actions of a normal loving mother from an outside perspective, but inside our home I began pushing my husband and daughter away.

To me, it was most important that I succeed in my second chance to be the perfect mummy to my baby. My daughter became a source of irritation to me, and as much as I loved her I didn’t want her to be under my feet while I adoringly showered my son with affection. I hated the sound of his crying and did everything I could to avoid it, even if it meant ignoring my daughter’s needs. Potty training became  battle of wills as she used it as an excuse to get any kind of attention from me that she could. I became so stressed and anxious that I stopped taking the children out on my own, feeling that everyone would be staring at me and judging my inadequacies.

As the panic attacks increased and became more and more severe I could no longer leave the house at all, and even stopped going in the garden for fear of people hearing me or my children crying. I begged my husband to stay home from work everyday so that I wouldn’t have to be on my own, and sobbed uncontrollably when he left. I lived in a sleep deprived, depressive, obsessive nightmare for 6 months until the inevitable breakdown happened. I could no longer be strong, I couldn’t keep going, I couldn’t manage anymore, I was on my knees and everyone around me was suffering. My psychiatrist saw me as an emergency appointment and sent me straight to a mother and baby clinic for mothers with mental health problems. My son came with me, but my daughter had to stay behind with my husband. I have never felt so guilty or so low, I felt like I was ruining her life, and the life of my husband.

I firmly believed that my family would be better off without me, rationalising that my children were too young to remember me and my husband would soon remarry if I left him a widower. The staff at the clinic were wonderful, welcoming and genuine, but I still felt worthless. The nursery nurses took care of my son while I caught up on much needed sleep and attended various therapy sessions. I sat with other mums, consuming copious amounts of tea and biscuits, and chatting about motherhood and its unexpected challenges.

After 6 weeks away from home, seeing my daughter and husband only once or twice a week, I began to see my own worth. I felt crushed every time my daughter left after a visit, when her little face looked up at me and asked “mummy, why can’t you come home with me?” She still loved me, and I missed her and knew that I loved her more than ever. She needed me, my husband needed me, and I learnt that I did have enough love in me to share it with all my family and leave some for myself.

Since returning home I have had up and down days. I’ve had panic attacks and some days my depression is still crippling, but I know I’m getting better. I want to be around to watch both my children grow up. I want to feel my husband hold me and tell me everything is going to be ok. And most of all I want to prove to myself that I’m not such a bad person, that I am actually a good mummy, and that my mental illness is just that, an illness, not part of me or my personality, so it has no place in destroying my life. I just have to remind myself that I am a person, not an illness.

Thank you anonymous mum

With all good wishes


Please email your submission posts to                                 Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Like us @                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

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Write for Your Mental Health Matters

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Your Mental Health Matters was founded in 2013 as a community committed to promoting mental health, ending stigma and supporting people affected by mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and other mental health related difficulties.

It is also aimed at promoting mental health in general, for example where individuals might be experiencing conditions such as stress and worry. It also embraces the wider context of improving well-being by highlighting global concerns such as rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, risks of violence and physical ill-health and human rights violations.

It is intended to be a forum in which like-minded people can contribute and share experiences within a supportive community through blogs, daily news and mental health information. It supports all other communities, organisations, charities and forums. It does not discriminate between voluntary, charitable, NHS or private providers of mental health care or mental health promotion.

We welcome guest blog submissions and encourage you to write about mental health in all its shapes and forms to share on our facebook site.

 We would like to request that when you submit your blog article that you avoid the following:

  • Use of language which could cause distress
  • Advertising or commercial promotion
  • Requests for financial support
  • Being disrespectful to others
  • Rudeness or badmouthing others

We reserve the right to edit blogs or not publish. We reserve the right to do so without explanation. We hope that we can help you to have your say and will endeavour to use appropriate images to support your blog or include your photographs where desirable.

With all good wishes Steve

Please email your submission posts to 

Visit us @                                                                                      Like us @                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

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