Mental Health & Money

Mental health problems can often lead to financial problems and vice versa. This can be due to a variety of reasons:

Using spending as a coping mechanism

Spending when hypomanic

Not addressing finances when depressed

Losing a job due to mental illness

Once the vicious cycle starts, it’s hard to get out of it. I know from personal experience all to well the dread that debt fills you with. It cripples you and keeps you stuck in a sinking quicksand of interest and unopened letters. It’s hell. But things can get better and I’m here to share with you some of my tips to relieving the stress of debt.

Get your head out of the sand

Yes it might feel like your sinking in quicksand, but if you really were. Would you put your head in first? No. But that’s what we do. We give up. We Bury our heads in the sand and that’s when it gets worse. The first thing you need to do is admit your situation and face up to it. It may be hard but dealing with a debt all your life will be harder.

Open those letters

Do you flinch every time the door knocks? Do you sigh when you see another brown envelope hit the floor? So did I. I had a whole cupboard full of unopened letters. No joke. I filled up a black bag once I had started to go through them. Don’t be like me. Open the letters, find out what debt you have. Write it down and keep a note of it. If you can, ring the debtors and see if you can work out a payment plan. If you can’t. Then the next bit of advice is vital for you.

Don’t suffer alone

I know what it’s like to have a mountain of debt. Looking up at the summit in horror feeling that there is no way you can climb this beast. It’s the worse feeling and you tend to isolate yourself further. It doesn’t have to be that way. You will climb that mountain, you may just need someone to help you along the journey. There are people and organisations willing to help. You may need a support worker.

Ask your local council for help, especially if you’re in rent arrears. If you’re under a CPN they can also support you with debt and help you apply for benefits such as Personal Independence Payment or Employment Support Allowance. But one thing I learnt the hard way is, people can’t help you unless you help yourself. So you have to take those first steps.

Prioritise the right things

Remember only to prioritise the debts that are most important. Things like catalogues and credit cards need to be addressed however your rent, water, utilities etc they need to be put first. Especially council tax debt. These are the debts that can really impact your life and your living situation so tell the others they will have to wait and sort these out first.

For more information on how to reduce debt contact your local citizens advice bureau who can sign post you to organisations to help your situation.

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Boobs after Breastfeeding!

I look down at my deflated breasts. My chest completely flat where two pert bosoms used to sit. Now they resembled a cocker spaniels ears. I looked back up to the mirror and when I did, tears had appeared in the corners of my eyes. I had recently given up breastfeeding and my emotions were all over the place. I felt useless and redundant. I felt I was no longer needed. And to add insult to injury now my breasts were looking as flat as pancakes. My nipples had doubled in size. They looked like mini Mexican sombreros.

They didn’t look like my boobs. You know the ones I had before kids. The ones that actually resembled what you see in the magazines. Perky, full, big boobs. And I loved them. I never imagined I would be giving them up to give my children the best start in their lives. Yet despite my dismay at my disappearing chest, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

It’s a royal pain in the arse don’t get me wrong, and honestly I’m so glad I can wear dresses that don’t button up at the front. I’m happy I don’t have to worry when I have a glass of wine or two. But I miss it. God I miss it. I miss the closeness of the moments I’ll never get back, the moments where it was just me and him and the rest of the world was just background noise.

That happened every time he fed. He was taking a part of me and I was nurturing him and together we built an unbreakable bond worth more than perfect boobs. So I may cry. I may stare at my ever changing body in disgust. But deep down I know. I know that my body is this way because I sacrificed it for the sake of my children.

From my caesarean section scars to my deflated chest, for all the stretch marks and the strain on my body. I’m thankful. I look at my body now not as a temple but as a home that nurtured three amazing babies and helped them grow.

Is there anything better than that really? I don’t think so.

And I can happily report that my boobs are coming back! Breastfeeding can be an emotional time and your body changes so much, but don’t let my post discourage you – they do get their perkiness back!

Overall breastfeeding is an amazing experience that will give you memories to hold dear for a lifetime. I recommend any expectant mum who’s thinking of breastfeeding to give it a try. You won’t regret it.

On the other hand, if you don’t breastfeed. This doesn’t make you an inferior mum. I only managed seven days on Leo and twelve weeks on Charlie. It takes time and not all babies latch on properly for a variety of reasons. Situations like that can’t be helped and it’s important to know if you’re unable to breastfeed it doesn’t reflect on your ability as a mother.

Did you breastfeed? How did you feel when you stopped? Let me know below in the comments.

Pets and Mental Health: The Companions That Help Us Cope.

Pets can make the best companions for anybody for a whole host of reasons. Theres nothing better than the unconditional love you receive from an animal, especially dogs and cats. If you suffer with a chronic illness however, pets can be even more precious. They give us focus, routine and a reason to keep going. They offer an unbreakable bond of unspoken words and late night cuddles. They know when you’re sad, they sense it. Animals can be the best therapy when we’re feeling down. I haven’t got an animal so I wouldn’t know if the animal therapy theory is true. To find out, I spoke to some people who say that their mental health has been improved tremendously by their pet.

Ana and Benji the Beagle

First up. We meet Benji and hear how he has helped owner Ana recover from panic attacks and Agrophobia.

‘I suffer with anxiety, panic attacks and I’m a recovering agoraphobic. I can’t go out alone – but I am able to go out with a trusted friend or family member. When friends and family members are at work, I’m able to go for short walks thanks to Benji.
He also helps me in other ways by keeping me company (I own my own business and work from home), makes me smile, gives me a sense of purpose, and of course that unconditional love! Life is a lot lot lot easier because of Benji!’

Take a look at Ana @ Virtual Bird (@thevirtualbird): https://twitter.com/thevirtualbird?s=09

Elle and Gizzy The Cat.

Here’s Gizzy, she helps her owner Elle with her Chronic illness.

‘I suffer with a chronic illness that makes me faint and my cat picks up on when I’m feeling really bad because of it. My depression got worse as I cant go out much in case I faint and whenever I cried my cat Gizzy would come and cuddle me, lick me and comfort me. As soon as she picks up on me having a low mood she wont leave my side, she purrs very loudly to try and calm me down which oddly actually really helps. On days I don’t want to get out of bed she will jump on me roll around and inform me she wants treats which helps me get up and move about and concentrate on her needs. Getting her was the best choice I ever made, she was the runt of the litter and her owner was going to put her in a shelter if no one replied to her add so in a way we have helped each other.

My cats name is Gizzy she is 6 years old, she loves to go for walks on her harness outside and thinks she is a dog.’

Take a look at Elle 👑 (@EllexMay): https://twitter.com/EllexMay?s=09

Hannah and Thor!

Next we meet, Thor! His owner Hannah opens up about how much he has helped her…

‘I suffer from anxiety and depression and have done for years. I cry in front of him and he is right by my side every single time. He won’t leave me alone until I have stopped and calmed down. He doesn’t pick and choose when he’s my friend, he always is. Walking helps get me out of the house on the days I don’t want to leave because I owe it to him (and obviously he needs the exercise). I couldn’t imagine now having a dog not to mention the welcome reception I get from him every single time I see him.’

Rebekah and Dante the Husky

Rebekah tells us why Dante does the job in making her feel better…

‘I have autism and our Siberian Husky dantè has helped me so much. When I get stressed or feel lonely he’s there. He will just chill beside me to calm me down. Also he’s helped me to get out of the house more and meet new people.’

Take a look at Rebekah 👑 (@RebekaahRose): https://twitter.com/RebekaahRose?s=09

Zoe and Angus the Pug!

Angus helped turn Zoe’ s life around for the better…

‘Angus is my pug, he’s four in April. I’ve always been obsessed with pugs, so I bought him as a puppy in 2014 when I was 18. My mental health was pretty bad at that point, my anxiety was so awful I would hardly go outside. The only thing that would get me out was seeing his sad puppy eyes looking at his harness and lead. Walking with him regularly slowly helped me get back into a normal routine. Pugs attract a lot of attention, so having him with me helped when speaking to strangers. He’s always so playful and confident – it’s hard being anti-social when you have such a sociable dog! Angus always cheers me up when I’m feeling sad or lonely and the best part of my day is returning from work after a horrible day with Angus to greet me. Having Angus to look after has given me a reason to get out of bed, something to go outside for and reason for routine and purpose. He is just the best!’

Take a look at Han Zolo (@ZoeDonna95): https://twitter.com/ZoeDonna95?s=09

Missy and her Maine Coon

Missy adopted her Maine Coon 1 and a half years ago…

‘My #MaineCoon absolutely knows my moods and how I am feeling. Sweetest cat I’ve ever met. If I’m having bad anxiety he does not leave my side.’

Take a look at Missy🌺✨ (@MissyTinoco): https://twitter.com/MissyTinoco?s=09

Sarah and Juliet

Juliet helps Sarah and her roommate…

My dog’s name is Juliet. We’ve had her since September of last year and we think she’s around 2.5-3 years old. We got her from someone who was deployed and couldn’t keep her anymore. My roommate has bipolar disorder and I have generalized anxiety disorder. My roommate got Juliet registered as an emotional support animal to help supplement her meds. Juliet loves people and loves to cuddle. She can tell when something is wrong or if you’re feeling sad or upset. She LOVES to lick people and is always looking for physical affection/willing to give physical affection. She doesn’t bark and she’s a good guard dog, but is also super sweet. We love her so much and it feels like we’ve had her longer than we have.’

Take a look at Sarah Guenther (@curiositygrace): https://twitter.com/curiositygrace?s=09

Clare, Ethan and Cocoa the Chocolate Labradoodle.

Cocoa has changed this family’s life…

‘We had a dog for my autistic son. It was life changing. I never imagined the difference it would make. She has saved his life many times. She was his sensory support, opepened so many doors of isolation and the list goes on. She gives him freedoms, independence, she didn’t expected him to talk. He trusted anything that was brown because he trusted her -she was brown. He couldn’t eat but would eat chocolate. That save his life. To her tribute we name our snack Nono Cocoa.’

Take a look at Nono Cocoa (@nonococoauk): https://twitter.com/nonococoauk?s=09

So there you have it. Proof that animals do really help when you’re feeling down. Do you have a pet? Do they help you? Let me know in the comments!

Sunshine Blogger Award

So the sunshine Blogger award is a special one because you can only be nominated by fellow bloggers. Which means that someone has read my content and enjoyed it, and that to me means more than anything.

This certain someone is Hannah Jane Artis. Hannah is a lifestyle blogger and her blog is wonderful. I especially liked her post about her trip to see Dreamgirls. You can check out more of Hannah’s work here.

Thanks Hannah! Here are the questions she asked me:

1. Where is your favourite place in the world?
My favourite place is wherever I am with my children.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I would love to be more organised and a bit tidier! I’m a bit of a scatterbrain!

3. Mindreading or invisibility?
Invisibility! I don’t think I’d want to know what people were thinking about me!!

4. Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Breakfast food is the best! Whether it’s Eggs benedict or just a bowl of coco pops, breakfast is definitely my favourite!

5. Why did you start blogging?
I’ve always loved writing since I was a kid. This time around though I wanted to write to help my mental health recovery and keep me focused. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I’m finding opening up about my experiences in my blog really helps me.

6. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world who would it be and why?
This is a hard one as I find so many people interesting, but it would have to be David Attenborough. I would be in awe. I would want to ask him about elephants because I love them so much.

7. TV series or Movie?
At the moment I have to say TV series because I’m hooked on so many. I’m watching one called seven seconds at the moment on Netflix and it’s amazing.

8. What’s your most treasured possession?
My mum had a really pretty ceramic ring holder. When I was little I always remembered it when I would try on all her pretty jewellery. I have it now and I’m waiting for my engagement ring to sit there haha!

9. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
I’m quite squeamish so I haven’t really experimented with weird foods. It’s not even weird but squid is probably the most out there thing I’ve eaten.

10. If you could change an aspect of blogging what would it be?
I wish all bloggers would remember why they started, that this is a Passion. It’s great if you can monetise your blog but don’t sell out. It really shows.

11. What type of laugh do you have? Silent? Cackle? Snort?
My boyfriend says I laugh like Muttley from wacky races, so I’ll leave that to your imagination!!

Now here are my questions for my nominees:

1. What inspired you to start blogging and what is your blog about?

2. What was your favourite subject in school and why?

3. Who inspires you the most?

4. What’s your favourite season?

5. Pepsi or Coca Cola?

6. How do you deal with writers block?

7. Who was the last person you kissed?

8. What’s the most important advice you would give about blogging?

9. What was your favourite childhood toy?

10. What is your pet hate?

11. Would you encourage others to start a blog?

IPhone to android: The dreaded transition

Last week I went to meet my dad for lunch. A quick toilet break resulted in me leaving with my iPhone smashed to smithereens. The only huge downside to the iPhone is that they aren’t very resilient if dropped. Saying that, I knew this and still had no case so it’s kind of my own fault. My first tip, if you have an iPhone GET A CASE.

Anyway enough about my stupidity!

I need my phone. I rely on it. Not only is it important because I have the kids but I need it for blogging and social media. I would be totally lost without it. I knew I would be paying at least £75 for a new screen and I thought to myself, shall I just get a cheaper replacement?

So that’s exactly what I did.

I’d had android phones before and always liked them but when the iPhone came out I was sucked in to the consumerism and my days of android were gone. I’d had Samsungs in the past and I always thought they were better but after a while I just got used to Apple and kept myself stuck in a rut.

This time though my budget wouldn’t even allow a decent Samsung. I only had £100 to play with and I wanted a phone that had a good operating system. I ended up going for the HUAWEI P8 LITE and boy was I pleasantly surprised!

It looks so similar to the iPhone 6, its slim and sleek. It has an amazing swift keyboard so I can write really easily with it. It’s good on sound, the camera isn’t as good as the iPhone or Samsung models but at only £130 from the car phone warehouse it really is a steal.

The only major downside for me really is that Apple have the best apps and I’ve struggled finding alternative android apps for apps such as Over or Hootsuite Enhance. I’m hoping I’ll find some good alternatives but its trial and error at the moment.

Are you on android? What are the best apps for blogging and creating graphics? Any advice would be appreciated.

For now I’m just getting used to this new phone but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, you’re only paying for the name. This phone works in exactly the same way the iPhone does except minus a few features. Oh and that includes the emoji keyboard which I must admit I am missing like crazy. But all in all I’d say, for the price it’s a pretty decent phone!

Love, Laura xoxo

Self care when campaigning

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If you look around at the way the world is today it would be easy to understand why a lot of people are depressed. The state of politics is a shambles, with a sell out tory government and Donald Trump the president of the United States, things have never been so hopeless.

But amongst the despair in the world there are still people who try and make a difference to it. The unsung heroes, the volunteers, campaigners. Those on the picket lines, those sharing their stories, speaking out, those of us who are fighting the good fight.

For every ounce of bad there is in the world it’s counteracted tenfold by the good. But it’s important to remember that even those of us fighting for justice need to look after ourselves. Campaigning for anything in this world takes a lot of energy and determination and when you roam into the jungle that is politics, the tigers come out to play.

People will hate you and shoot you down for your efforts, especially in the day and age of social media – everyone has an opinion and some people are not afraid to express it, usually rather rudely. Trolls on twitter are rife and no one is safe from it, not even celebrities.

I remember when I was volunteering for the cause in Calais. I was putting all my energy into it. I, along with many others, felt something needed to be done about the situation. It was approaching winter and many of the refugees didn’t even have the basics to see them through.

My good friend Sue set up a support group for donations and from that it rocketed into a mountain of responsibility none of us asked for, but we were happy to do. Luckily having kids and other responsibilities meant my involvement was very little but I heard some right horror stories about how people were treated, including some of my friends, when all they were trying to do was help.

I couldn’t continue campaigning and volunteering because I found it too hard. I have to protect my own mental health as much as possible and when people are shooting you down and personally insulting you for what you believe in, it gets hard. The reaction I had for trying to do good was disheartening and it started to make me feel depressed.

It’s important that if you are campaigning, especially for mental health, that you’re looking after your own mental health too. You can’t put from an empty cup. With this in mind I’ve put together a list of tips for self care when campaigning.

1. Don’t take it home

Make sure you don’t take your work home with you. It’s easy to get consumed in campaign work because you want to do your very best and you want to fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves. You can’t fight if you have no strength though. So it’s important to recuperate when you can and make sure you’re getting enough rest.

2. Don’t let it consume you

It’s easy to get caught up in the lives of others when you’re fighting to make them better, but remember you also have to look after yourself. This isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Don’t let your life slip. You won’t be able to help anyone if you do. Make sure you put campaigning to one side for at least one day a week and dedicate that time to doing something you enjoy, and spend time in your own world.

3. Ignore the naysayers

There will be plenty of them, trust me. It will infuriate you at times. Don’t take it to heart, politics brings us together but it also divides us. You will never be able to please everyone and there will always be someone who doesn’t think what you’re doing is a good idea. You don’t need to prove anything to them, just ignore the spiteful comments and keep fighting the good fight!

4. Make the most of your support network!

The good thing about activism and campaigning is that you will usually be part of a strong network of like minded people. Spend time with these people. These people are your team, your family. So you may lose a few friends? You will make more! Focus on the people who believe in your goals and watch your life change.

If you keep these tips in mind then there’s no reason why you should stop campaigning but remember not to burn yourself out, take care of yourself and then you can take on the world. Also, it’s okay to take a break now and then. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or you’re not passionate, it means you’re human. A wonderful one at that.

Love,

Laura xoxo