Suicidal Feelings – How to get help

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Sometimes painful feelings lead people to contemplate suicide. The pain can seem unbearable and life can seems pointless. Feelings of self loathing may make you think that you are useless, and that everyone would be better off without you.

You may be filled with thoughts of anger, guilt or shame. Sometime painful feelings such as loss can leave you feeling empty and that life is not worth living. Maybe you feel you are to blame and that there is no alternative but to end your life.

You may feel that suicide is the only solution, the only way you can take control. Perhaps feelings of anger, guilt or shame overwhelm you. You may start to think that suicide is the only way out.

Even if you don’t know why you feel the way you do, suicidal thoughts simply may just be so overwhelming that you can see no way out.

Please don’t despair. You may think that no one can help you, perhaps you are actively avoiding people and planning how you can take your life. Maybe you feel so deeply hurt or are filled with rage and turning your feelings inside, or perhaps so angry with another that you want to punish them and suicide seems a good option.

Please seek help. You are not alone, many people with suicidal thoughts do not go on to kill themselves. If you are reading this, you have already taken that important first step in getting help.

You may be filled with shame and think you are beyond help, but please reach out. Your doctor will be used to helping people in your situation. They will be able to get you the help you need.

There are a number of treatment options from medication to talking treatments, including counselling and psychotherapy to help you come to terms with your feelings and explore your thoughts. The aim of which is to enable you to make sense of what is going on, to help you to find a solution to your problems.

If you are reading this and are concerned about someone you know:

Make sure you tell them that you want to help them.

Make sure you tell them that you will help them seek help.

Don’t promise that you will be able to help them by yourself or without telling others. This is too big an issue for you to bear on your own.

Whether you may like it or not, the person that threatens suicide is responsible as to what they do with their life.

Tell them that you do not want them to do it.

Ask if they are angry with you or want to hurt you? Tell them that they do not need to act it out this way.

Enabling the other person to talk about their feelings can be a great relief to them, it will help diffuse some of the tension and is likely to give them “permission” to tell you if thoughts turn to intent.

When actual suicide intent is expressed, ask them how they plan to do it and if they can picture themselves doing it.

Remember, at this stage where the person may see no future, suicidal thoughts may appear perfectly logical and they may see no reason to live at all.

Try to get them to hold on, negotiate a window or time frame that they will hold off until.

Remove or hide all dangerous drugs or other implements that they may have expressed a desire to use in the act.

Get help straight away.

With best wishes,Steve

Other sources of help:

Your local hospital A & E Department.

Samaritans – Offer 24 hours support on 08457 90 90 90 or email: jo@samaritans.org.

Papyrus – Offer advice for young people at risk of suicide and can be contacted on 0800 068 41 41.

MIND – Can provide information and help can be contacted via the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or via email at info@mind.org.uk or via their website: http://www.mind.org.uk

Saneline – Offer advice and practical information and can be contacted on 0845 767 8000.

turn2me.org – Offer free online counselling.

Maytree Suicide Respite Centre – Registered charity supporting people in suicidal crisis in a non-medical setting. If you, or someone you know, could benefit from a one-off stay in a safe and confidential space, please call – 020 8038 3588 or email maytree@maytree.org.uk.

Main references:

“How to Cope with Suicidal Feelings”(2007) Mind information booklet.
“Overcoming Depression” 1987) Dr Richard Gilllett, Dorling Kindersley

Image: By Baker131313 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Find your Self-belief

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How many times have you opted to stay in your comfort zone rather than try something new? How many things have you not done because you didn’t believe in yourself? Missing opportunities leaves us feeling regret and erodes our sense of self.

I really believe that all of us were born with infinite energy to achieve things. It takes courage to move out of our comfort zone, but growth happens right on the edge not in the middle. Yes, it may feel scary, but by gritting your teeth and facing your fears of not being good enough you can achieve great things.

There are a number of things you can do to begin to make changes and no better time than the present to do so.  Go out and do something with others, perhaps joining a local choir or club. Many organisations welcome volunteers no matter how little time or experience you have. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do; it also makes us happier and healthier too.

Going for a walk or doing some other outdoor activity can help with self-esteem. Research shows that getting active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression.

Trying out new things or learning a new  skill can gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience.

Set yourself some goals for 2016. Something exciting, new, ambitious but realistic.  Setting goals  and having dreams gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

Stop comp airing yourself to others.  No-one’s perfect. Dwelling on our flaws, makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all is the key to improving our self-belief.

If you’ve ever felt there must be more to life? The answer is, there is!  Next time that negative inner voice tries to talk you out of something… say NO.

Make 2016 your year.

Until next time, Steve

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

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Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                                                 Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                                                                 Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: By Camdiluv ♥ from Concepción, CHILE (Colours) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Beat the winter blues

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While the summer may seem to be ideal for getting out and about, now is the time to be outside. As the seasons change and the sunshine fades away, all the beauty of Autumn appears. Trees take on the familiar reds and golds we associate with this time of the year and leaves begin to fall.

Rather than hibernate indoors, taking a stroll in the countryside can do much to lift our mood as the nights draw in. The colours of Autumn can inspire us and lift our spirits, so put on your wellies and head out into the countryside. Taking exercise and making the most of the light available can help fend off the “winter blues.” According to the SAD Association, about seven per cent of people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of winter depression and a further 17 per cent have mild symptoms or “winter blues”.

Waking up exhausted and wanting to sleep more is common in Autumn. This is due to longer hours of darkness which increases the amount of melatonin, the sleep hormone. If you can, stick to a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time.

Shorter days and lack of sunshine reduces the body’s production of serotonin, which may influence mood in a way that may lead to depression.  Seasonal food contains serotonin-boosting carbs such as potatoes, pasta and rice and can help stave off low mood.

Just because it’s cold outside don’t just curl up in front of the TV. Certainly an evening watching a feel good film or chatting over home cooked food can be nice and make you feel better about life, but seeing friends is a must. Numerous studies have shown that spending time in the company of others prevents us feeling isolated and stops us getting down in the dumps.

Finally think about getting fit with endorphin boosting exercise, not only will this be good for you but you will have a three month head start on those who join the gym in the New Year!

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHerbst.jpg

The Importance of Structure, Routine and Meaningful Activity in Depression and Anxiety

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For many people with depression and anxiety, having a structure and routine can really help. Coping with these conditions can lead to great discomfort. What you need is a plan, a way of coping. Not only will you be dealing with the depression and anxiety using techniques and coping strategies, but you will also be dealing the vast expanse of time, that without structure can seem like an endless ocean of distress. When depressed and anxious life can seem a lonely place where you are at the mercy of your thoughts and negative ruminations. You also need to factor in meaningful activity.

Creating a routine has many benefits. Begin by dividing the week into days, dividing the days into halves, quarters even hourly segments. Look to building up four categories of support:

Addressing your physical needs.
Addressing your mental and emotional needs.
Addressing your spiritual needs.
Addressing the need for human contact.

Here are forty tips that you also may find helpful:

Learn a relaxation method.
Organise your day to include work (or meaningful activity), rest and leisure.
Plan your day to avoid worrying over uncertainties.
Eat small regular healthy meals, ovoid caffeine, sugary and junk foods.
Don’t go too long between meals.
Keep alcohol and smoking to a minimum
Avoid boredom or getting into a rut, this can increase stress and anxiety.
If you do not work, it is very important to find interest and purpose elsewhere.
Find out if there are any organisations, centres or clubs that need volunteers.
If you do work, it is important to have some “you” time.
Make sure that time for you is quality time.
Exercise daily – it will reduce anxiety and raise your mood.
Get some fresh air, even if you cannot get out, open windows.
Spoil yourself while you are not well.
Don’t accept put downs, try to be more assertive.
Learn to say “NO” when you need to. We can’t give all the time.
Let others help, but don’t lean on them.
Find friends you can relax with, rather than wind you up.
Set yourself small goals that you can succeed in, no matter how small.
Be positive!! Positive things happen to positive people.
Be yourself, remember your unique.
If your appetite is down, think nutrient dense.
Try to get plenty of sleep, avoid naps if sleep is difficult.
Sunshine is very good for depression and anxiety.
Humans are the only animals that don’t make their own vitamin C, eat an orange!
Make friends with nature, put out a bird feeder.
Do something creative, cut out pictures from magazines and make a collage.
If you anxious lower external stimuli, dim lights, turn down television volume.
Have a bath with soothing oils.
Cuddle a hot water bottle if your cold.
Keep a journal or diary of your thoughts and feelings.
Get yourself some flowers and put them where you will see them.
Break large tasks into many smaller ones.
Don’t expect too much from yourself.
Stop being a perfectionist.
Do not make major life decisions while you are depressed.
Make lists, they can really help.
Stop blaming yourself, stop saying, “it’s all my fault.”
Every morning, relax, breathe and chant an affirmation for 10 minutes
Keep a positive book and write down two positive things each day, however small.

For more tips check out my book, “50 Tips to beat depression,” available on Amazon.

Until next time, Steve.

We would be delighted if you visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

www.facebook.com/mgbhillclimbchallenge

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                             Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AL059_-_depressed.jpg

References:

“How to Help Yourself get through Depression on a day-to-day basis” www.metanoia.org/help/helpyourself. htm [Accessed 29/05/13].

“Eight Ways to become an Optimist” by Vera Peiffer, Options, Feb 1993.

“20 Tips on Fighting Anxiety, Depression, and Fatigue Naturally.” www.kellythekitchenkop.com/2011/06/20-tips-on-fighting-anxiety-depression-and-ex... [Accessed 28/02/2014].

“Daily Survival Plan for Living in Hell,” Douglas Bloch. www.healingfromdepression.com/survival-plan.htm [Accessed 06/06/15].

Cooking to Cure; A Nutritional Approach to Anxiety and Depression

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Book Review

Cooking to Cure; A nutritional approach to anxiety and depression, is an inspiring, practical guide to nutrition and how a nutritional approach may help you eat your way towards better mental health. It represents an exciting cutting edge approach to health and is something researchers all over the world are looking into.

Could changes to our diet be as effective as pills? Could you take control of your dietary intake to improve your mental health? With depression and anxiety as one of the most common mental ailments in the western world, it is high time we sat up and looked at dietary factors.

This wonderful book explains in a very clear and understandable way how nutrients affect the brain and our moods. It details the nutritional contents of foods that are known to play a part in depression and anxiety, how much you need every day and even has a recipe section full of mouth watering meals.

As someone who has for many years appreciated the “truth” and power of nutrition as prevention and cure, Angela reflects on changes to eating habits over the years. She draws on scientific research to support the hypothesis that as our diets have become more and more depleted of essential nutrients, so too the incidence of depression and anxiety has rocketed. She tells us how replacing commercially processed food with “real” food (not faddy diets!) we can reclaim our health and well-being.

It is empowering and a must-read for all sufferers of depression and anxiety.

Available from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cooking-Cure-nutritional-approach-depression/dp/1508568146

Until next time, Steve.

We would be delighted if you visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

www.facebook.com/mgbhillclimbchallenge

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                             Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

How to Let go of Worry and Anxiety

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The other night I woke and thought to myself, “What have I to worry about?” I realised then what I have always known; we are programmed to worry. I had nothing specific I needed to worry about, but realised that I nearly always have something competing for my attention and worry.

The following morning, whilst eating my breakfast, a thought entered my mind: “What if the card machine isn’t charged when I need it?” Able to catch myself, I was able to let go and come back to the present and my breakfast. This is typical of what happens to all of us every day.

Do you worry? Of course you do; we all do, as it is our natural default position.

When worrying gets out of control, it can lead to anxiety and panic. If excessive, it can cause illness. Worry, which could also be deemed “active problem solving,” is the result of the natural evolutionary response known as ‘fight or flight’, as you focus on “what ifs” or “what could happen.”

Persistent or chronic worrying is what doctors refer to as anxiety. It can impact on your daily life to the point that it interferes with work, relationships, sleep and appetite, and it diminishes your quality of life.

Many people who suffer from anxiety turn to smoking, drinking and drugs (over the counter or prescribed) in an attempt to get some relief from their emotions. Some people comfort eat, whilst others starve themselves. In some cases, when worrying and anxiety gets out of control, it can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

What Causes Anxiety?

We humans are funny creatures, always looking outside ourselves for the answers. We look to external reasons for tension and anxiety.

All kinds of worries flit in and out of our minds: whether we will have enough food to eat, whether we will be able to find a partner so that we are not destined to spend our future alone, whether we will have a pay rise, lose a job, whether our car will break down or whether we will be able to afford a holiday. The list of worries is endless.

We look to “things” as the source of our worries. Often, we project our mind to the future and say to ourselves, “when this happens” or “when that happens, I will be happy and have no more worries!”

Look a little closer and you will see that these external things: job, money, relationships, etc, are not the true cause of the negative emotional states of worry and anxiety.

Worries do not come from outside and are not the result of “external circumstances,” they are the result of “internal circumstances”. Worry, stress, tension and anxiety are all the result of our thoughts.

 Accept Worry for What It Really Is. 

A worry is nothing more than a thought. Worry occurs when our mind is “future focused”. For example, if you were confronted by a lion or tiger your worry would not be about the fact there is a lion or tiger in front of you. Your worry would be that the lion or tiger might eat you! When you sit an exam your worry is not sitting the exam, but whether you will do well enough to pass! Worry is all about things going wrong, in other words, threats to our existence. Worry is simply a particular type of thought pattern, nothing more. Stress arises as a result of the internal stories we tell ourselves. Those with good imaginations make wonderful worriers!

By going over things in our minds we get stuck in a cycle of thinking, replaying events, projecting forward. As we ruminate over and over we become tense and experience stress. Many engage in what I call “stinking thinking!” that king of negative rumination that spirals into a very black place and which can ultimately result in clinical anxiety or depression.

Because your mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and your imaginings, the thoughts have the same results on the body no matter what. In other words, imagining an event happening causes the same physiological responses as if it were actually happening!

Those who worry experience ongoing irritability, muscle tension, concentration difficulties, indecision and agitation just as though they were actually experiencing the things they worry about. The result is a constant state of arousal, feeling “on edge,” and unable to relax. Often the mental stress will be accompanied by physical stress, headaches, neck ache, back ache, chest tightness and chest pain and so on.

When you learn to recognize worry and anxiety for what it really is, which is simply “thoughts”, it begins to lose its grip on you. With practice, it can become very simple to let go of worry.

Using Mindfulness to let go of Worry. 

To begin with, it is important to have a clear understanding of what mindfulness is:

“Paying attention to the present moment, experiencing the present moment non-judgementally, with kindness and compassion.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

The easiest way to do this is to use our breath as an anchor. Breathing in and out, paying attention to what is happening in our mind and body, becoming aware of our thoughts – the stories playing out in our minds – as well as the emotions and physical sensations as they are arising. You will soon discover that your mind has a life of its own, taking off into the future or dwelling on some past event. This is totally normal, and when you notice that your mind is no longer on the breath, notice what is on your mind at that moment. Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, note to yourself simply that you’re “just worrying.”

By doing this you begin to witness your thoughts, instead of being in your thoughts. You now have the power to choose to let them go. So notice what is on your mind at that moment and then gently let go, NOT by consciously pushing your thoughts away, but by recognising them and letting them be, as you gently turn your attention back to your breathing, paying attention to the present moment and what you’re doing. Every time you catch yourself worrying – no matter how often – you simply acknowledge, let go and return to your breathing.

Don’t Fight your Feelings

Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now,” reminds us, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and whatever you resist, persists.” The emphasis is always on what is happening, not why it’s happening. It is important not to fight your feelings, simply acknowledge in a non-judgemental way without criticism, without trying to push the thoughts away. You don’t need to spend energy fighting your thoughts, but you also no longer need to follow them and dwell on them. Simply acknowledge them, label them, put them down and move on. As soon as you struggle with the thoughts you give them power. Instead, try to observe your thoughts and worries objectively and with calmness. Simply make a mental note, without giving them any more importance or power than they deserve.

Know that you will face each situation as you come to it and deal with it then. Learn to deal with stress and difficulties more wisely, by responding rather than reacting. Learn to let go of the past and leave the future until tomorrow. Let your “future self” deal with tomorrow and let your “present self” deal with today!

Until next time, Steve.

We would be delighted if you visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                             Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Depressed_girl.png

References: 

This post was adapted from “How to Overcome Worry & Anxiety…For Good!”               http://mrsmindfulness.com/how-to-overcome-worry-anxiety-for-good/  [Accessed 14/04/15].

Black. A (2015) “The Little Pocket Book of Mindfulness”, CICO books: London, New York.

Tolle. E (2001) “The Power of Now” Hodder Paperbacks

“Mindfulness of the breath” a meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Cutting Club

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Many people reading this blog about cutting will understand just how others feel who cut. They may have cut themselves in the past, have a friend or family member who cuts, or be contemplating the next cut at this very moment.

Cutting is the act of deliberately inflicting a wound, of self-harming and differs from a suicide attempt per se. It could be said that while cutting serves many purposes it is often a way of coping, a way of dealing with emotional distress. It may be that the person cutting feels deep sadness, acute anxiety or emotional numbness. Sometimes cutting can be a way of relieving stress or trying to feel in control. For some, “X” marks the spot, just like a cross on a map, it can signify the presence of something hidden or buried deeply. For some cutting can be a “ritual of purification.” This type of “blood letting” can release perceived “badness,” and it may be a way of inflicting punishment on oneself.

The term “Cutting Club” might be a good metaphor for what young people look for – a “connectedness” with others who may feel alienated from family, peers or society. Cutting becomes a statement and others may identify with them, perhaps forming a friendship group Alternatively, it might be the entry requirement to joining the group itself.

It is not just cutting itself that bonds members of this club together, other forms of self harm serve  the same currency. Scratching, burning, picking, tearing at skin, pulling out hair, swallowing poisonous or toxic substances, even breaking ones own bones, all share the same characteristics with often the same painful underlying themes.

In my experience as a therapist, cutting is frequently linked to underlying child abuse, in particular sexual abuse. It is more common in girls, but boys cut too. While I have seen boys and girls as young as 12 cutting, in my opinion the vast majority of those who do so, are in the 16 plus age group.

It may also be related to depression and anxiety. Quite often those, who cut may also turn to eating disorders or drugs as a way to cope. Sometimes it can be linked to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, perhaps as a result of trauma, individuals feel ” dissociated” or ” numb” and this can be a way of feeling. For some people who have difficulty in regulating their emotions, cutting can be a way to cope when they do not have the personal resources to do so. It is not unusual for people to think about suicide when they are cutting, but it is not often meant as a suicidal act. The biggest danger is that the person cuts through an artery accidentally, seriously endangering their life.

I have seen cutting in all parts of the body including breasts and genitals, however, the most common injury sites are wrists, arms, thighs and sometimes stomach. I would not regard tattoos and body piercing as self- harm, unless of course, it is done deliberately to cause harm.

In most cases cutting is done secretly, often in the privacy of the home and mostly it is done where it can be covered up, perhaps by pulling down sleeves and hidden beneath layers of clothing.
Frequently, people who self- harm tell me that no one knows about this behaviour.

It can be very difficult for parents to deal with because they are so emotionally involved. Often they may blame themselves, sometimes they become angry, often because they feel both helpless and worried.

In my clinic I go to great lengths to try to understand what it is that underpins this behaviour. I know that it often signifies s deep emotional distress. It is a way of coping and I make sure to tell the person cutting that they are not bad and that this is not bad behaviour but merely a way of coping.

I explain that I am not judging them and neither am I going to take away this means of coping. Instead, I suggest that either working together to resolve the underlying conflict and/or providing them with a wider range of coping skills is really the best way to help.

It is very difficult to stop cutting because it can become a habit and ultimately an addiction. The very act of cutting releases “feel good” hormones known as endorphins, or to use the full medical name endogenous morphine.
Identifying the triggers is a key task and then teaching coping strategies other than cutting. Sometimes the addition of medication such as an antidepressant can help greatly. Having an opportunity to talk about the deep problems to a professional within a safe and confidential setting can really help. Sometimes having access to clean dressings and medical help may be needed, particularly if wounds are more than superficial.

If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know,make an appointment to see your doctor. Alternatively you  may find that there is a young persons counselling service near you, and if you are at school or college there may be someone you can talk to in confidence. Please feel free to email me in confidence via my website and I will try to find help in your area.

Until next time, Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                           Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.                                                               Registered Mental Nurse.                                                                                                     Registered Nurse for Learning Disabilities.

 

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