Self harm alternatives – you do not deserve to hurt

Mental Health

Today is self harm awareness day.

I haven’t always been open about my personal and current struggles with self-harm; I hate that it is such a taboo subject and people are afraid of seeking help and support for their struggles.

I happen to find the subject difficult to talk about because unless you have an understanding of it, people will be very unlikely to understand your reasons for doing it. I find that most Parents will be angry with their Children when they first discover signs of self harm, but when they’ve learned about it some more they certainly do become more understanding and patient.

You have to remember it from both sides, though. Whilst we use self harming as a coping mechanism, our loved ones feel helpless and distressed about the problem as there’s nothing they can really do in order to make it better.

There’s so much stigma attached to self harming, people just make assumptions that you’re mental or crazy. People never understand unless they’ve experienced it for themselves or have educated themselves on the issue. IE – Therapists, support workers, GP’s (and more professionals)

Before I began struggling with self harm, I didn’t quite understand why people did it but I never viewed it as a form of attention seeking. I just couldn’t figure out why people would hurt themselves in order to feel better – but since struggling with it myself, I’ve now become aware of the reasons why myself, and other people, self harm. Prior to many people’s beliefs, I’d like to add that anybody can struggle with self harming. Whether you’re male, female, old or young. Many people associate self harming with Gothic people and it’s just another stereotype that’s been made.

Many people fail to recognise that self-harm isn’t a form of attention seeking, it’s a coping mechanism. I use self harm regularly in order to cope with the illnesses I am plagued with, alongside the thoughts and voices I have and I know quite a few people who have/are struggling with the same. When people self harm, they do not do it as a way of hurting those around them. It isn’t like that, though it can definitely be frustrating for loved ones to witness.

Also, there are quite a few methods of self harm people use – it isn’t always a matter of running a blade down your arm. People will do whatever they can to hurt themselves in the spur of the moment whilst feeling low because it’ll help to relieve the mental pain and torture.

My lovely support worker reassured me that this is my coping mechanism for now, but this doesn’t mean it’ll always be this way. Over time, with the correct support, I’ll learn better coping mechanisms and will learn that I don’t deserve to hurt myself anymore. But when you start self harming, you can’t just stop immediately or if somebody tells you to do so. It takes time and practice.

There are positive coping mechanisms and negative, though it doesn’t make you a bad person if you use ‘unhealthier’ means of coping, you’re struggling and you’re entitled to help and support just like everybody else.

I totally understand that everybody will react differently to different coping mechanisms and what works for others may not work as well for somebody else. But this is okay. A huge part of learning new coping mechanisms is learning what works best for you personally.

  • Spending time with animals. Whether they are your own pets, your friends pets or perhaps you could become involved with voluntary work. Animals are incredible and are very theraputic, they also bring out the compassionate, caring and loving sides in us as people.

 

  • Spending time with friends or family. Our friends and family love us unconditionally and will go to lengths in order to ensure we’re happy, especially whilst we’re going through a dark patch. You could arrange a day out together, or even begin planning a holiday. Do something you enjoy and something that will assist in switching your mind off from the negativity.

 

  • Doing something artistic. Art is amazing and allows us to express ourselves, also art therapy is very popular nowadays. Colouring, drawing, painting, knitting and craft work (such as making bracelets) are all useful and are good at distracting.

 

  • Exercising. But only if you’re allowed to (Ie – not if you’re underweight) Exercise releases endorphins which are a ‘feel good’ chemical. So aswell as keeping you fit and healthy, exercise can also improve your mood majorly. You don’t have to be an Olympic Athelite to enjoy exercise, expecially as so much is available. Including: running, walking, climbing, dancing, swimming, badminton, tennis, trampolining, yoga and so on.

 

  • Listening to music. I find that listening to music helps me to feel good sometimes, depending on the day. I enjoy finding new music to listen to, catchy music which is easy to sing along to. I wouldn’t recommend listening to sad songs whilst you’re feeling low, as they will only make you feel worse. Putting Disney soundtracks on full blast is one of my personal favourites! Gotta love Disney, right?!

 

  • Watching something on tv. I really enjoy watching films, especially Disney films because they help me to focus on something and enable me to feel good and distracted. Documentaries are also amazing, I’ve recently found a new love for them (especially animal documentaries!) I know lots of people who enjoy relaxing whilst watching series on Netflix, it’s whatever works best for you.

 

  • Self care. This is very important as it’s crucial that we take care of ourselves, this also allows us to feel good, energised and pampered. Self care can be anything you enjoy – ranging from painting your nails and applying a face mask, to going out shopping, taking a long bath or reading a good book. Sitting down, relaxing and unwinding is a necessity in life, especially if you’re not feeling the best.

 

  • Playing a game. Games are awesome distractions which can be played alone, with friends or with family. Board games are a classic, as they encourage you to communicate and to work as a team. I really like trivial pursuit as I love building on my knowledge and learning new things; monopoly, frustration, card games, jigsaws, dominos, snakes and ladders are all fab too. Electronic games are a favourite of many people, including x-boxs, playstations, nintendo ds and wii. There are also a wide range of computer/laptop games on the market for you to buy – including The Sims which uses concentration which is a necessity when distracting yourself.

 

  • Writing. Writing is a great distraction and coping strategy because it gives us the opportunity to focus on other things, as opposed to the things we may be going through. This can include keeping a thought diary, writing your own book or starting up your very own blog! This also allows us to express our thoughts and feelings in a form of written communication.

These are just a few, of many, coping strategies that can be used in order to prevent you from self harming. Though, I know it is easier said than done and colouring doesn’t always give us the same relief as hurting ourselves does.

I recommend trying new coping mechanisms and discovering which works best for you, personally. You never know how helpful they could be unless you give them a go!

Thankfully, there are lots of support services available to access for people struggling with self harm or thoughts of self harming.

Mind – The Mental Health Charity: http://www.mind.org.uk / 0300 123 3393 or you can also text 86463

The Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org / 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (Republic of Ireland)

Self Harm UK: http://www.selfharm.co.uk / they have a search tool which allows you to find your nearest support when you’re in a crisis

You can also make an appointment with your GP or go to A&E for support.

A note to remember:

“I know you are hurting, but you are beautiful and you are worth so much more than harming yourself”

Hugs,

Laur x

Veganism – why I don’t exploit my animal friends

Animals

Definition of a Vegan: ‘A person who does not eat or use animal products’

Veganism. In this single word, I am already beginning to picture people rolling their eyes and throwing a glance my way as though I have two heads. I bet you think I’ve been paid to write this, or that I’m just some modern day hippy. You’re probably thinking, WHY Veganism? Why would you choose to live on a lifestyle of vegetables, do you enjoy the taste of cardboard?

Amazingly, Veganism is now on the rise with more and more supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and companies catering for Vegans as more people have decided to join the cruelty-free lifestyle, saving hundreds of animals each year. With the high rise in Veganism, this brings a demand for more products to be made available for us to consume, use and wear. N0 – Veganism isn’t just about food!

Veganism isn’t a Diet; Veganism is a lifestyle

There are a wide range of Vegan products available, way more than just your average fruit and veggies – though they are delicious too! We are now able to have a Vegan alternative in pretty much everything. Cheese, burgers, ice-cream, yoghurt, popcorn, chocolate, pizza, milk, soup… You name it, there’ll more than likely be a vegan, cruelty-free, alternative to the things you usually buy.

Veganism is not expensive, you can buy lots of vegan products and spend a little amount of money. Also, you’ll be rewarded with the feeling of no longer contributing to suffering and animal abuse. Vegan products are available in most supermarkets now including:

  • Asda
  • Tesco
  • Sainsburys
  • Morrisons
  • Aldi
  • Lidl
  • Ocado
  • M&S
  • B&M bargains
  • Holland and Barrett
  • Waitrose

Right now, hundreds of animals will be sent to slaughter, animals will be living in treacherous cramped conditions where they cannot turn around or move properly, where they are forced to stand in their own faeces and where they will have no access to the outdoors or fresh air. These animals will never feel the cool, crisp morning air running through their fur (or feathers) and they will never experience the feeling of walking through freshly grown grass.  And all this is because they are forced to give up their short lives to become ‘food’. Shouldn’t all beings have the rights to their own lives? Flashback to the past, remember when Sweeney Todd was butchering people and putting them in pasteries? People were very disugusted, sickened and confused when they found out. Yet, this is the reality of millions of animal’s lives. This isn’t okay.

You’re probably thinking ‘Well, I buy free-ranged so it’s okay!’ But may I just remind you that NO animals want to be killed? Whether they’re free-ranged or not, they are still being exploited and are tragic victims of animal abuse, pain and suffering. Some companies use pictures of animals looking ‘happy’ in order to sell their produce and have positive words in their products in order to attract customers.  including the Happy Egg Company.

Are the Hens really all that happy, being used as machines? Being forced to lay egg after egg whilst confined in the worst possible conditions?

Animals are here with us, not for us

The animals you are consuming will have been artificially inseminated in order to be forced to get pregnant. Then, straight after birth, the animals are taken away from their Mother’s before they’ve even developed a bond. Before the baby has been able to lactate from it’s mother. Not only does this traumatise the animals and cause them distress but it also has a negative impact on their mental state too. Then, when the mother is no longer able to give birth they will be sent to slaughter too. What kind of life is that? Being used a machine and then being forced into a death sentence?

Imagine if a Human Mother was injected time after time, forced to give birth unwillingly and then killed when they could no longer reach pregnancy?

How would you feel if your baby had just been taken away? Will be due to go to slaughter and will never be seen again? If this happened to a person, it’d be all over the media and people would be going insane. So why do people think it’s okay to treat animals in such a way?

‘Not your Mum, not your milk’

Imagine the controversy of feeding a new-born lamb with a Human Mother’s breast milk? Imagine how disturbed people would be? The feelings of anger and disgust?

Well, it’s exactly the same scenario when Humans are drinking animal’s milk. The milk you’re consuming alone or in your food products, was meant to be for a new born. The eggs you’re eating are periods, the flesh you’re eating was once a living, breathing animal who wanted nothing more than to live and to be free. The fur on your new, expensive coat was once an animal too who was born to live, not to be worn.

I chose Veganism and with this I chose to live a cruelty-free and compassionate lifestyle. After years of being Vegetarian, I educated myself in the harsh realities of the dairy industries and simply decided that enough was enough. I just wasn’t willing to contribute to the pain and suffering of beautiful, intelligent animals. I didn’t want to put money into the industries that cause horrific experiences for hundreds of thousands of animals.

I chose Veganism because I wish to work with animals in the future, I’ve made a personal pledge to save as many animal’s lives as possible, I’ve made a promise to care for and love all the animals in my care unconditionally. And for me, I couldn’t be hypocritical and spend my day saving animals for me to go home afterwards and eat some(one) that doesn’t belong to me.

And most importantly, I wish not to eat my friends, the reasons I fight each day,  I wish not to treat my body as a graveyard but as a nourished temple filled with joy and compassion. I wish to work exceptionally hard in order to create a wonderful world for animals and all living things.

Go Vegan, join the happy and compassionate lifestyle where we embrace animals and nature as opposed to destroying them.

Hugs,

Laur x

animals

(Die)t talk yawn

Mental Health

Christmas has recently ended, with this goes the craze of diet talk in the media. Everybody suddenly gasps at their waistline and commits to dieting. January 1st rolls in and with this brings in New Year’s resolutions and everybody is soon to ditch their selection boxes and bottles of wine, for bowls of soup and exercise routines. Everywhere you look seems to be bombarded with information regarding the best weight loss tips, diets and information on how you can easily drop a dress size.

‘New Year, New me’

Also, with Summer soon approaching in a couple of months people are set on getting their ‘perfect summer body.’ Magazines are filled page after page with celebrities and their ‘ideal small frames’ which adds to the pressure in making other people look the same. We get brainwashed by the things we see and read, more often than not forgetting they are photoshopped and airbrushed to an unrealistic standard. Nobody has a ‘flawless body’ or ‘flawless skin’. And even so, why should it matter? Isn’t it important what’s on the inside, rather than the out?

We should be promoting health and body confidence, as opposed to weight loss and unhappiness.

Leading us to believe that tummy rolls and cellulute are abnormal, when in fact, we need them in order to protect our organs. Body fat is essential and important, it isn’t the enemy. I mean, if Miley Cyrus is on a diet and is flaunting her 6-pack-abs then it definitely must be a necessity, right? Definitely not. Again, the majority of people will take to a silly diet which isn’t very beneficial for their health at all. There is a high level of pressure put on us to look a certain way and in order to fit in certain clothes sizes but happiness and health isn’t worth risking in order to fit in a size 0.

There is no wrong way to have a body. Each body is beautiful and unique. Our bodies are the houses to our souls and we would be nothing without them.

Now, this diet talk is all well and good… If you’re not suffering from an Eating Disorder like I am (as are millions of people worldwide.) As an Anorexia sufferer, I dread this time of year simply because I find the dieting fad to be triggering and harmful. May I just add, it isn’t possible to avoid these adverts as they are literally the main focus for most people. If you’re not being plagued on the television with these ads, your colleague has just announced to you that they are starting a diet. Arghhh! My thoughts tend to go crazy whilst people are choosing to shed a few pounds, with common thoughts such as ‘Well, if they’re dieting I need to’ ‘Everybody else can lose weight and so can I.’ The pressure to diet in order to fit in really hits home and makes this time of year more difficult than ever.

These advertisements seem torturous, whilst half the nation is dieting, cutting out food groups and restricting calories (which I DO NOT recommend!!) There are also people who are being told left, right and centre to eat, the importance of eating and with hospital threats being thrown in your direction almost always, you have no choice but to listen to those around you. It seems like a punishment, constantly questioning why people are trying to make you fat whilst they’re going along all willy-nilly making possibly harmful changes to their calorie intake.

An important thing to remember is that the people advertising these diets aren’t aiming them at anybody in particular. In fact, they are part of a money making scheme ~as told by my lovely Therapist~ where they try and rail people in as a means of bringing them in a higher profit. Because ultimately, the more people following these fad diets, the more recognition these companies get which in the long-run brings them in more money. Hence why the advertising is everywhere, so you’re guaranteed to not miss an opportunity to see what slimming world has in store. Unfortunately, these companies don’t batter an eyelid to people suffering with ED’s and they most certainly don’t care about the impact their diets could have on other people’s lives. IE- Causing them to develop an Eating Disorder or causing them to land with dangerous medical conditions from heavily restricting.

We must do our best to remember that just because some people choose to diet, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated too aswell. Just because Jenny from Manchester is going on a no-carb diet, that doesn’t mean you have to and it isn’t a way to get at you. It’s also important to remember that these diets do NOT last, meaning most people will commit to them for a day or two before getting bored and returning to their usual eating habits. Some people don’t diet, they just say it in order to fit in with the conversation topic. As difficult as it is, we must focus on ourselves, our journeys and what is best for us.

We should not be guilty for focusing on ourselves and stopping ourselves using unhealthy coping mechanisms. We cannot wrap ourselves up in cotton wool to protect us from harmful things, but we can learn coping mechanisms as a means of dealing with any reoccurring negative thoughts we may be having. 

The most important thing is that we focus on recovery and keep our personal goals in mind: regaining ourselves, our lives, our health, happiness and sparkle.

Hugs,

Laur x

cactus.png

 

 

A helping paw – animals and mental health

Mental Health

Today, I am writing about the importance of animals for mental health sufferers speaking from my personal experience(s) and will be touching upon the benefits of having animals by your side during your worst, and best, days. I spend the majority of my time with animals, whether they are my pets or the beautiful animals I have the privilege of working with and caring for during volunteering and work placement roles. And, following on from this, I encourage everybody else to do the same (spend as much time as you can with animals) Animals definitely bring out the best in people.

Personally, I would go insane without having my gorgeous pets by my side. For me, animals are a constant reminder that you have to keep fighting and keep staying strong. If a Lion (for example) gave up hunting for prey in the wild – it’d go hungry and die eventually. Hence why it’s important that we take good care of ourselves and shower ourselves with love and compassion.

Walking up the driveway after a busy day, you’re exhausted but you’ve finally arrived home and there’s somebody dying to see you. Jumping up and down behind the front door awaiting your presence, or swimming magically waiting for you to pass by, sitting patiently by their empty food bowl ready for their hunger needs to be met. Maybe he (or she) is a furry friend, or a scaly friend, a small friend or a larger friend. The point is, somebody is happy to have your company. Somebody relies on you and loves you so much, though this cannot verbally be expressed we can tell how much our animals love us.

You may have had a difficult day, you may no longer see a point in living or breathing; to somebody else you are the most important person in the world, you are needed, valid and loved unconditionally. 

People around me are always commenting on how I’m ‘different’ when I’m surrounded with animals. Why? Well, because they bring out my confidence, my passions and my compassion. They also enable me to feel a sense of achievement and importance, aswell as giving me a reason to carry on fighting each day. Animals help me to see the good in the world and teach me new and exciting things every day – including the values of having your own unique personality and crazy ways about you.

  • Animals cannot and will not judge you, lose their patience with you or get angry with you for having bad days. Though, they can provide you with safety, compassion and lots of hugs.
  • Animals are such gorgeous, loving and sensitive beings who will love you unconditionally at all times. Especially when you’re finding it difficult to love yourself. Ever heard the saying ‘Nobody on this Earth loves you as much as a Dog loves his owner.’
  • Animals give you something to focus on, other than your illnesses. For example, they keep you reminded of the importance of self care, they will encourage you to leave the house and will show you how important food and water is in order to thrive, grow and function. They will also provide you with a sense of responsibility and importance, which will help to lower feelings of worthlessness and despair.
  • It’s been scientifically proven that animals help to boost self-esteem and mood levels.
  • Animals can tell when you’re hurting and will do their best to comfort you, by staying by your side and showing you that you are never alone. Animals are incredibly clever and can sense when something is wrong, just having them around helps to calm down most situations, including bad thoughts and negative feelings.

I hope this post has been helpful and I hope you have a lovely day, too.

Hugs,

Laur x