Author Archives: amandaburbidge

World Mental Health Awareness.

If you were on any social networks, or saw any news, on Thursday October 10th, you can’t have missed the wash of images, stories and personal moments being shared to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day.

Of all the awareness days, this is the one that gives me the most mixed of feelings.

Of course, being a professional counsellor, working with those who have vulnerabilities, have survived difficult situations and events, who continue to face challenges with bravery and with support, I think it’s vital to have an open and honest dialogue about mental health.

I see, and am happy to see, the changes in how openly mental health, crises of mental health, and the depression and anxiety conditions which impact so many lives are being spoken about. We have celebrity – and even Royal – voices telling their own stories, making speaking about these issues more commonplace, making it easier for people to admit when they are struggling, and erasing the stigma and shame that always used to be paired with mental ill health.

These changes are superb to witness – and to be a part of. To be a service provider, helping those who come forward to say “I am not ok, and I need help” – but equally, I know that speaking openly on social media may not be helpful for some. It may open their vulnerabilities to more dangers, to strangers and trolls, to those who take advantage, and those who dismiss their pain and challenges. This can make a person who is already struggling yet more vulnerable, putting them at risk.

I also know that speaking more openly about the mental health crisis the country is currently facing won’t improve the availability of crisis services, which are already stretched far beyond their capabilities in every county throughout the UK.

Crisis counselling services have huge waiting lists, funding to provide more availability, to train and provide experience and support for those who can, and want to, help, and ongoing support beyond the initial mental health crisis an individual might suffer is scant, and a tidal wave of people speaking openly on social media may be helping to remove the stigma and embarrassment around speaking about our challenges – but it does little to provide actionable solutions which can help people in crisis.

I don’t know what the solution is, and I know that – as the country lurches towards yet more uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the political imbalances in the UK – the issues of the NHS, mental health provision and funding for supporting the most vulnerable in our society is going to remain a problem that we don’t know how to solve.

I may not be able to help every person in crisis, but I and the kind, beautiful, compassionate people I have the pleasure of working alongside know that every moment we commit to supporting those who are battling their own struggles eases some of their personal crisis – and every person we help is incredibly important to me, and to my colleagues.

If you are struggling, if you are looking for a safe space to speak and process your fears, anxieties and events which have impacted your life, I can help. Call me or contact me with your name and contact information, and I will respond as soon as possible – and we can arrange a time where you can tell me more about yourself, and discuss how I can help you with your challenges.

Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association

The SWEDA Support Group takes place on the first Wednesday of every month between 7.00pm & 8.30pm at our comfy meeting room in Shepton Mallet.

We have two qualified group facilitators, both with years of experience in eating disorders.

The next group will be on Wednesday 4th September at
The Coach House, Harvest Court, Park Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BS.

Please feel free to bring along a friend (they are welcome to join in the group or wait in our waiting area for you).

Our self-help group is user led, so in each session the discussion will vary depending on who is attending and what they are bringing to the session. You will always have an opportunity to discuss what is important to you. This will allow you to talk about things you might not be able to discuss with others. We are not here to judge you. You might just want to ask for information or for some advice. You may just need to off load (whatever is important and beneficial to you). We want to give you the feeling of empowerment, a sense of community, letting you know you are not alone. Our members have found this form of support helpful when used on a regular basis; there is no obligation to attend every month. It is completely up to you.

SWEDA has always recognised the value of peer support – people coming together to support one another, share their successes and challenges and to encourage each other along the journey to recovery.

We hope to see you there.

For more information (including how to find us and where to park) please visit our website: https://www.swedauk.org/services/self-help-support-group

Self-Talk that helps you become smarter and feel better about yourself

GOAL SETTING; Setting a goal and making a plan, for example (What to do, when to do it, how to do it) can be a big help. You might just make a list. However, saying your goal out loud focuses your attention and reinforces the message, this in turn controls your runaway emotions and screens out those pesky distractions.

COMPLIMENTS; if you feel you deserve them, then give them to yourself (out loud). Do not wait for others to recognise your achievement, and offer the compliment to you. Your small or big acts that take care of you are important. For instance, you may have been really tempted to eat that cake, or have another alcoholic drink, but you remembered your commitment to yourself to lose a few pounds or reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. This certainly deserves a compliment “I’m proud of you”. You may have found time to finally get around to having the clear up you had been intending on doing over the last year, again celebrate your achievement with a self-compliment “well done me, great job”.

MOTIVATION; you might be struggling with difficult or mundane tasks, or keeping to those goals you set for yourself. Remind yourself of the why you set the goal, or the task that requires your attention, then with a kind voice to yourself “I have the energy to succeed today, so how about getting started right now”. Don’t forget to compliment yourself along the way, “well done me, I managed to get that job done” or “well done me, I stayed on track with avoiding unhealthy food and drink”

OUTER DIALOGUE; Choices are not always easy. Often we respond or react impulsively due to habit or our personal anxiety. Now is the time to create an out loud conversation with yourself, this way you will ‘hear’ what you think. An example of this might go something like this, “I would like to stay because xxxxxxx, however, I want to go because of yyyyyyy. I need to work out which decision is right for me”. Engaging in this self-dialogue can help you to make a compromise or a conciliation between your wants, your needs and other people’s expectations.

Regardless of living by yourself or with other people, you are constantly ‘living with’ your own self. Respectfully engage with your self-talk, it is not a sign of insanity or ‘losing the plot’. It is a sign of good mental health. Remember, you have the right and deserve to extend ‘Self-love and Self-compassion’ to yourself. Be your own advocate.

Wishing you all a happy and successful 2018, whatever your personal goals might be.

Amanda J

The Art – and Science – of Sharing a Secret

July 9 2014 / Jessica Gross

Studies show the personal health benefits of sharing your private hopes and fears with trusted confidantes. But what if you feel alone?

You keep secrets from each other; you keep secrets from yourselves. Secrets bond you; secrets drive you apart. Keeping a secret can be a burden, or it can delight you. Sharing secrets can be a relief, whether it’s with your old friend or new therapist.

For children, learning to keep secrets is a vital developmental milestone. In one study, researchers asked kids who were three, four, and five to play hide-and-seek and to keep a secret about a surprise. Abilities to do the two tasks correlated strongly with each other, and with the kids’ social cognition. At three, the kids were fairly hopeless at these tasks; by five, most of them could keep a secret, and had the cognitive development to match.

For adults, this is expected behavior. “Virtually all adults of normal intellectual and psychological functioning do keep personal secrets at one time or another,” writes Anita E. Kelly, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, in The Psychology of Secrets.

Yet across ages and cultures, multiple studies show the personal health benefits of sharing your private hopes and fears with trusted confidantes — and the corresponding detriment of keeping some secrets entirely to yourself.

Which secrets should you not be entirely alone with? Secrets motivated by shame. The research is clear: shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression and violence. The first step away from shame can be as close as a shared secret and the words “me too.” As Brene Brown (TED Talk: Listening to shame) explained so eloquently in 2012, “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

If no trusted confidante comes to mind, then it may be appropriate to share that “shameful” secret with someone new. Just being listened to by a kind and empathetic stranger can sometimes provide relief, says suicide prevention counselor Kevin Briggs (TED Talk: The bridge between suicide and life). And if you’re not yet ready to share your secret out loud, the act of writing it down and turning it into shared art can sometimes be transformative.

A decade ago, Frank Warren (TED Talk: Half a million secrets) founded an ongoing community art project that transformed his own secrets, in addition to many others. His project, called PostSecret, is a curated compendium of never-before-shared secrets, artistically rendered on postcards and mailed to him by anonymous strangers. Yes, Warren had a tedious job back in 2004 and was looking for a meaningful project to do on the side, but “I think a deeper motivation might have been secrets I’d been carrying in my own life, secrets I’d been keeping from myself,” he says. “In some ways, maybe PostSecret is this art project that’s made just as much for me to reconcile with secrets I’ve been haunted by.”

Since 2004, over a million people have mailed Warren postcards with their secrets written (and often depicted) on the back; he keeps them in an ever-growing pile in his house. “It shocks me every time I look at the pyramid,” he says. “It’s taller than me. I’m 6’3”.”

Over a million people have mailed Warren postcards with their secrets written (and often depicted) on the back; he keeps them in an ever-growing pile in his house. “It shocks me every time I look at the pyramid,” he says. “It’s taller than me. I’m 6’3”.”

While a creative impulse may motivate some of those million-plus PostSecret sharers, others just want to create connection. For a similar project called OneHelloWorld, Jared Brickman (watch his TEDxSyracuseUniversity Talk), invites strangers to leave him voicemails, which he musically scores. Since August 2010, he’s received tens of thousands of them, “way more than I can hope to record music to.” The voicemails don’t all contain secrets, but for those that do, callers often reference the need to get something off their chests, to just “share this with somebody,” Brickman says. “For some folks, they don’t feel like they have anybody else, and those might be some of the most upsetting ones, with such a big, beautiful populous planet,” he adds. “If you feel like you’re in a really vulnerable situation, or you’re feeling really vulnerable, you can call in and talk into the dark.” Brickman and Warren are collaborating on a PostSecret album to be released in the fall of 2014.

Sharing secrets with strangers doesn’t put your ego at risk, like sharing with intimates does. But Warren points out that sharing secrets anonymously can also be a rehearsal for telling the people you care about. “It’s a way of putting your secret in words and, first of all, admitting it to yourself, and then finding the courage to share it with a stranger,” he says. “At that point — especially if you’re getting feedback that makes you realize that your secret is more normal than you might imagine — that can be a way to drop that burden of shame and become ready to share it with a parent, a spouse, a psychiatrist, a friend.”

Truly intimate relationships depend on really seeing another person, which means knowing the deep reaches that not everyone has access to. We can never completely merge with another, nor should we — being an adult requires maintaining healthy boundaries — but sharing these tender parts of ourselves allows others to love us, just as accepting others’ secrets allows us to love them.

“I believe secrets are the currency of intimacy, and I think by sharing them we can not only develop stronger relationships with friends and family, but maybe get a better understanding of who we are. So I feel like secrets are transformative,” Warren says. “I think the sweet spot, in terms of intimacy, is to share more of the secrets than we feel comfortable with. But never all of them.”

 

ideas.ted.com

The art — and science — of sharing a secret

IAPT or Counselling…

In 2016 a research study was undertaken to look at the effectiveness of the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) services. After careful analysis the indication is that ‘Counselling is as effective in the treatment of Depression as is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy’ https://link.springer.com

I am aware that the waiting times for ‘Talking Therapies’ from the IAPT service is extensive, and in many cases patients have had to wait several months. I am personally saddened that a system designed to support you, is at this time struggling to cope with the high volume of individuals requiring psychological support.

I can offer support by means of Integrative Talking Therapy’s and CBT approaches, tailored to fit your psychological need. I have extensive experience working alongside individuals who have sought counselling for depression, low mood, anxiety and many other issues that caused for them dis-harmony and unhappiness.

If you have reached a point where you would like to take back control of your psychological well being in order to be the best that you can possibly be, why not give me a call, or send me an e-mail, you have nothing to lose and only your sense of well being to re-gain.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Amanda